New Jersey is responding to widely-shared concerns about physician-industry financial relationships with a mix of both tested and newer reforms, and its move toward greater transparency is consistent with national trends.

In a report this week, the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs calls on state agencies to ban pharma meals to physicians, require physicians to disclose industry payments totaling more than $200, and restrict the use of commercial data-mining of prescriber data, one of the main tools in the pharma industry’s marketing arsenal.

New Jersey’s Board of Medical Examiners has been exploring these issues seriously and comprehensively for some time, holding public hearings on pharma issues like gifting, conflict of interest policies at academic medical centers, and industry-backed continuing medical education. (The Prescription Project testified before the Board on industry marketing in Nov. 2007.)

In general, we favor measures that put the compliance requirements on the industry, rather than on physicians. Because New Jersey puts the onus on doctors, it is possible that its approach will do more than existing laws in other states to discourage certain problematic relationships. However, it may also be more difficult to ensure compliance. In the main, though, New Jersey is to be congratulated for these innovative efforts to curb inappropriate influence on prescribers.

We’re going group!

After two years, PostScript is graduating to a group blog. There’s more about Rx policy than we can say ourselves, so from time to time—starting next week—we’ll open this space to other voices on pharmaceutical issues.

Stay tuned…

–Kate Petersen, PostScript blogger