Rx DRUGS: Bush Signed Law Limiting Generic Blood-Thinner
In his presidential campaign, Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) "promises to make prescription drugs more affordable," but in 1998, Bush signed legislation hindering use of a generic version of the popular blood-thinning drug Coumadin, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. The legislation was sought by Coumadin maker DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical, which tried to persuade states to block competition from a generic substitute, warfarin, approved by the FDA in 1996. Texas, one of three states to adopt laws limiting use of the drug, directed the state pharmacy board to draw up a list of drugs that would require pharmacists to double-check with doctors who prescribed them. The Sun reports that Coumadin was "by far the most popular" of the nine drugs on the list. Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett said, "When we're talking about drugs that have the potential of life or death, we ought to have an extra safety measure for patients." But "health experts" say the risk of the generic drug was "greatly exaggerated," and Texas recently "reversed course" after the state pharmacy board lost a lawsuit brought by generic manufacturer Barr Laboratories. The board concluded after public hearings that "there was no reason to require extra scrutiny" of warfarin. Gail Wilensky, one of Bush's "top health advisers" who helped craft his Medicare prescription drug plan, also said that "it should be up to doctors and patients -- not state drug boards -- to choose among FDA-approved drugs" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 10/18).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.