Free colonoscopies that may cost – in the end – and a big pharma Supreme Court case

From Kaiser Health News, Harris Meyer reports, “Under Health Law, Colonoscopies Are Free–But It Doesn’t Always Work That Way .” It’s another quirk in the Affordable Care Act. (A bigger one, which continues to evade much public scrutiny, is how coverage is based on recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force – all EXCEPT the 2009 mammography recommendations which were back-burnered for – you name it – political…special interest…lobbying…widespread miscommunication reasons.)

And in the New York Times, Natalie Singer reports on “A Fight Over How Drugs Are Pitched,” about the Supreme Court hearing arguments this week on a case testing whether Vermont’s prescription confidentiality law violates the free speech protections of the First Amendment. She begins the story:

“Before pharmaceutical company marketers call on a doctor, they do their homework. These salespeople typically pore over electronic profiles bought from data brokers, dossiers that detail the brands and amounts of drugs a particular doctor has prescribed. It is a marketing practice that some health care professionals have come to hate.

“It’s very powerful data and it’s easy to understand why drug companies want it,” said Dr. Norman S. Ward, a family physician in Burlington, Vt. “If they know the prescribing patterns of physicians, it could be very powerful information in trying to sway their behavior — like, why are you prescribing a lot of my competitor’s drug and not mine?”

Marketing to doctors using prescription records bearing their names is an increasingly contentious practice, with three states, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, in the vanguard of enacting laws to limit the uses of a doctor’s prescription records for marketing.”

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April 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm

re: colonoscopies.
A rare case where unbundling might be a good thing. Of course you’d have to create the HCPCS code.
Free care always has its problems and I’m not convinced how much it improves compliance.
Well you get the idea

Michael Kirsch, MD

April 28, 2011 at 6:45 am

Sure, we physicians loathe that the pharm reps have profiled our ‘scripts, and they won’t talk to us about it (until they quit the company). I expect that the Supremes will deem this to be legal and that the process will continue.