Maine Repeals Three Get-Tough-On-Pharma Laws

Maine Repeals Three Get-Tough-On-Pharma Laws

July 18th, 2011 // 1:14 pm @

In the latest move by the Republican-dominated legislature in Maine to undo laws that have made the pharmaceutical industry uncomfortable, three bills were repealed this week that required drugmakers to report three things: marketing costs, prices subject to the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program and negative findings in clinical trials.

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The action follows an effort last month to repeal a 2003 law that was created to prevent pharmacy benefit managers from switching patients to more expensive drugs and protect consumers from co-payments when actual drug prices are cheaper.. Taken together, Maine Democrats say the various repeals will roll back important patient safety protections.

“It’s part of the pro-pharma agenda being pushed in Maine these days,” says Sharon Treat, a Maine legislator who heads the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices. “It all comes down to whose side you are on. Democrats think the law should be on the side of the patient and the taxpayer – not the pharmaceutical companies.”

The new bill, which is called ‘An Act to Make Certain Prescription Drug Disclosure Laws Consistent with Federal Law,’ repealed one law that required drugmakers with reps in Maine to submit an annual report showing marketing costs, such as money spent on food; entertainment; travel and gifts worth more than $25; travel for docs; and drug advertising and promotion specifically targeting Maine residents.

The bill also abolishes a requirement that drugmakers post clinical trials info on a publicly accessible website, such as purpose of the trial, when trials took place and results of the clinical trial, including adverse events. Drugmakers were also required to pay an annual $1,000 fee that was used to fund a state academic detailing programs. The legislature cut the fee to $500 as of April.

The bill also removed a requirement that drugmakers report average manufacturer price and best price for Medicaid drugs. Treat says this will make it harder for the state to negotiate prices, likely driving up costs in the MaineCare program. “Right now,” she says, “Maine gets back on average 50 percent of the cost of drugs purchased by MaineCare in rebates – one of the best percentages in the country.”

The repeal effort comes shortly after Republicans took control of the governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature. Among the high-profile Republicans connected to industry is Ann Robinson, who has been an attorney for the Maine Republican Party and recently co-chaired the transition team for Governor Paul LePage. She has also lobbied on behalf of Medco and PhRMA, the industry trade group .

Source: Pharmalot

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