USA Today Op-Ed Looks at State Prescription Drug Formularies
The federal government should move to stop the pharmaceutical industry from blocking states' implementation of preferred drug lists to reduce health care costs, Joel Gurin, executive vice president of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, writes in a USA Today opinion piece. Gurin writes that formularies are developed through the use of "evidence-based medicine," a "radically simple" approach in which a team of researchers compares the evidence on drug treatments for common ailments to determine which "low-cost drugs work as well as pricey ones." Gurin notes that prescribing patterns are "heavily influenced" by the drug industry, and because the development of formularies using evidence-based medicine "threatens that status quo, and, therefore, the profits of the industry," the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and individual drug firms are "suing several states to try to block" programs that seek to implement preferred drug lists. Gurin continues that although states such as Oregon -- which has proposed using evidence-based medicine to establish guidelines for government health programs -- are "leading the way, the federal government should support and coordinate their comparative research of drugs." Gurin concludes, "In their fight against evidence-based medicine, drug companies ... are playing a high-stakes game in which protecting their profits seems to be their highest priority -- not protecting the health of Americans. It's time for that game to end and for consumers and their doctors to get the information we all need" (Gurin, USA Today, 11/13).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.