PhRMA Plans to Launch ‘Major Educational Campaign’ Against State Prescription Drug Formularies
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America today plans to announce a "major educational campaign" designed to block proposed drug formulary plans in state programs such as Medicaid, the Wall Street Journal reports. PhRMA plans to "work behind the scenes" -- organizing phone banks, community meetings and news conferences -- to help doctors and patients influence legislators and officials in states considering such proposals, which attempt to keep costs down by "demand[ing] deep discounts" from drug makers in return for placement on a list of preferred drugs, the Journal reports. Medicines excluded from the lists are "available in principle" but require doctors to get special approval before they can be prescribed, which "practically eliminates their use," the Journal reports. Some patients' groups and doctors say formularies "hurt the quality of care." Despite efforts by PhRMA to block preferred drug programs in Florida and Michigan, two separate court rulings in late December and January upheld both states' formularies. PhRMA spokesperson Bruce Lott said, "We are committed to ensuring that what happened to Medicaid patients in Florida and Michigan will not happen again." In Georgia -- one of the first states PhRMA will target, along with North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Washington -- state Rep. Mickey Channel (D), chair of the state House appropriations subcommittee on health funding, said that PhRMA's efforts to "relax" the state's formulary for Medicaid beneficiaries and state employees are not likely to succeed because the state "can't afford" to forgo the estimated $7 million in savings that a formulary will provide (Hensley et al., Wall Street Journal, 3/11).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.