e_legs

Dime Bags of Viagra: Follow Up

In Consumerism, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Progressive Politics, The War On Drugs, US Politics on March 7, 2007 at 1:40 pm

A post I put up a few days ago (Dime Bags of Viagra) described a report by the UN Drug Control Board stating that abuse of prescription drugs is surpassing abuse of illicit/street drugs. I placed some of the onus on multi-national drug corporations and their questionable marketing techniques, and commented on the fact that the NY Times didn’t carry a story on the report. An article in yesterday’s paper makes me feel pretty good:

The chairman of a House committee has asked two medical device companies and three drug makers for documents as part of an investigation into product safety and marketing practices.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson for information on their drug-coated stents to treat clogged heart arteries, citing concerns about the safety and off-label use of the devices.

Off-label use of medical devices and drugs occurs when doctors use the products to treat ailments other than those for which they are approved by regulators.

Mr. Waxman also sought information about allegations of inappropriate marketing by the drug makers Eli Lilly & Company, AstraZeneca and Cephalon.

Despite my argument that our perception of drugs is at the root of out abuse problems, I am very glad to see some level of governmental oversight finally making inroads in these kinds of issues, regardless of the motivation. These are merely letters at this point, and it will be interesting to see the amount of disclosure these companies will be willing to give and the amount of push back from the House if they don’t get the answers they want. In many ways, this may become reflexive on the progress of “ethics reform”, one of the key issues in the Democrat’s 2006 platform. If this is as far as the story goes, or they enact some toothless legislation after an ineffectual investigation, one can assume that Drug money is still alive and well on the Hill. As I wrote before, this is a big issue facing the health and well-being of millions of Americans, hopefully we’ll see some action from our elected officials.

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