Former New England Journal of Medicine Editors Call for Rx Industry Reform in New Republic
In the cover story in the Dec. 16 issue of The New Republic, Drs. Arnold Relman and Marcia Angell, both former editors-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, look at the pharmaceutical industry and call for "big changes in the way drugs are tested, patented, advertised and priced," the Boston Herald reports (Lasalandra, Boston Herald, 12/11). In the article, "How the Drug Industry Distorts Medicines and Politics: America's Other Drug Problem," Relman and Angell offer several recommendations, including reforming patent laws to increase access to generic drugs; banning direct-to-consumer advertising; reforming clinical trials to eliminate pharmaceutical company influence; and allowing large purchasers, such as Medicare, to negotiate prescription drug prices. Relman and Angell conclude, "Americans need good new drugs at reasonable prices. Yet the pharmaceutical industry is failing to meet that need. There is a widening gap between its rhetoric and its practices. Neither the medical profession nor government has so far done much to remedy the situation, but sooner or later they will have to act" (Relman/Angell, New Republic, 12/16).
Responding to the New Republic article, PhRMA spokesperson Jeff Trewhitt said that Relman and Angell "have always had strong reservations about the pharmaceutical industry." According to the Herald, Trewhitt disputed almost all of the allegations made in the article, adding that drug prices are not "too high" and that increased use of prescription drugs reduces the need for costly hospital care (Boston Herald, 12/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.