Minneapolis, MN, April 26, 2007. The Prescription Project today launched a new initiative with the Minnesota Senior Federation (MnSF) to assist consumers, doctors and health plans in combating the influence of drug industry marketing in order to improve patient care and lower prescription drugs costs.

Minnesota stepped to the forefront of conflict-of-interest reforms targeted at pharmaceutical marketing in 1993, when it became the first state to ban gifts over $50 by drug companies to physicians, and to require the industry to report all physician gifts and fees.    Information disclosed as a result of this law has exposed troubling financial entanglements between drug companies and the medical profession. 

A recent study revealed that the pharmaceutical industry spends $12 billion per year in direct-to-physician marketing and $4.5 billion per year advertising to consumers. The MnSF will join the Prescription Project’s national effort to combat the influence of industry marketing by promoting and strengthening public policies.  The Prescription Project will also support the work of an innovative collaboration between the MnSF, Minnesota physicians, health plans and researchers to provide evidence-based, unbiased information on the safest, most effective drugs to consumers and their physicians.

“Our health and our pocketbooks are at risk when the drugs we use are based on the latest marketing schemes from big pharmaceutical companies,” said Lee Graczyk, executive director of the Minnesota Senior Federation. “With The Prescription Project’s national reach and resources, we will be able to further our mission of providing the people of Minnesota with access to affordable prescription drugs and take our best practices to a national level.”

Robert Restuccia, the executive director of the Prescription Project, said the leadership shown in Minnesota on the issue of medical conflicts-of-interest was a major reason for picking that state as the project’s first project. “We see the Minnesota Senior Federation as a leading example of the work consumer groups can do to encourage physicians to take a patient-centered, evidence-based approach to prescribing,” said Restuccia. “We intend to strengthen their work and use it as a model in our national efforts to ensure that drugs are selected based on science, not industry profits.”

The Prescription Project is an initiative of Community Catalyst, a Boston-based national health care advocacy organization, in partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, based at Columbia University, and is funded by a $6 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. 

The Minnesota Senior Federation is the first recipient of a series of local grants The Prescription Project will give to support innovative initiatives in selected states.   MnSF and The Prescription Project are joined by the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Medical Society and Health Partners in this initiative, In one educational program, the Minnesota collaborative will dispatch computer kiosks in physicians’ offices statewide. The kiosks will provide easy access to CRBestBuyDrug reports that patients and physicians can discuss together. 

About The Prescription Project
The Prescription Project is led by Community Catalyst in partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.  Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Project seeks to eliminate conflicts of interest created by industry marketing by promoting policy change among academic medical centers, professional medical societies and public and private payers. The Project will also will advance state and national level policy solutions, such as bans on industry financial inducements to physicians; and data-mining of physician prescribing records.

About the Minnesota Senior Federation
The Minnesota Senior Federation (MnSF) is a statewide alliance of mature Minnesotans committed to enhancing the quality of their lives. Enterprising members help members to be their own best advocates regarding concerns which are — or should be — of particular importance to an increasingly wide age group, including access to prescription drugs, affordable housing, Medicare reform and changes to Social Security.   The Minnesota Senior Federation is a leader in promoting better health care through engaging its membership in policy change efforts. The MnSF was the first group to sponsor bus trips to Canada for seniors seeking more affordable drugs and is a leader in efforts to allow safe drug reimportation nationally as one solution to the crisis in access to drugs.