Bills on Electronic Tracking of Medications Draw Fire in California
Two bills that would address electronic pedigrees for prescription drugs are sparking fierce debate in the California Legislature as health care stakeholders weigh in on each proposal, Capitol Weekly reports.
For example, the California Consumer Services Agency is opposing SB 1307 by Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), which would require prescription drugs to be tracked with a system of electronic technology or bar codes from when they are manufactured to when they are sold in a pharmacy. The bill is sponsored by the California Board of Pharmacy, which falls under the Consumer Services Agency.
In June, the agency proposed a set of amendments to the bill that would delay the deadline for deploying the tracking technologies, called e-pedigree, from 2011 to 2015. The agency also suggested a change that would exempt drug manufacturers from the e-pedigree requirement, according to Ridley-Thomas.
Ridley-Thomas rejected the amendments, and agency officials testified against the bill at a hearing of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.
Greg Hurner, deputy secretary for legislation with Consumer Services, said that if the bill is not amended, it would increase drug costs and would not address issues such as drug counterfeiting.
Hurner also sent a letter to Ridley-Thomas opposing the bill and saying that the cost of the electronic tags that pharmacies and hospitals would need to buy "would likely require tens of millions of dollars annually" from the General Fund at a time "of increased budget pressures."
Drugmakers also have said they want to avoid a situation where different states use different e-pedigree standards.
Ridley-Thomas noted that his measure calls for federal e-pedigree standards -- when they are created -- to supersede California's standards.
Drugmakers are supporting a bill (SB 1270) by Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) that would establish a task force to study options for phasing electronic pedigree into the pharmaceuticals system.
However, some e-pedigree supporters are not supporting Cedillo's proposal.
Brian Liang, executive director of the Institute for Health Law Studies at UC-San Diego, said, "You spend enough time in Sacramento, as well as Washington, [you realize] when you establish a task force it means you have an excuse to do nothing" (Maclachlan, Capitol Weekly, 7/10).