So perhaps this is getting serious. Doctors Object to Gathering of Drug Data
If the A.M.A effort succeeds, "legislators will turn their attention elsewhere, and the industry can hang on to one of its most valuable data sources," according to an article this week in the industry trade magazine Pharmaceutical Executive, which was co-written by an A.M.A. official and an executive with the leading vendor of prescription data. Even many critics concede that patients’ privacy is apparently not an issue, because the tracking systems identify only the prescribing doctors, not patients. But many doctors find the use of the data by sales representatives an intrusion into the way they practice medicine."These doctors were outraged that people came into their office and talked to them about how many times they prescribed a particular drug," said Dr. John C. Lewin, the chief executive of the state medical association in California, one of the states where complaints about the current system arose. The California group is beginning its own program under which doctors who do not opt out under the A.M.A. system will get comparisons of their prescribing patterns in 17 classes of drugs from the data companies, said Dr. Lewin, who added that the program was being started as a pilot effort that he hoped would be extended statewide.
This latest dose of outrage is almost hysterical. In both senses of the word.
There are some doctors who are vehement in their opposition to drug companies. They won’t take the free lunch. There are some who take advantage. For most, they have a fairly neutral opinion of drug reps. But the concept of not allowing anyone to know their prescribing patterns doesn’t exactly smack of the transparency that we’ve heard so much about. And frankly if the drug companies don’t know how to detail docs as efficiently as possible (and for that they do need the data) it’s likely that their marketing efforts will get more unfocused and more onerous on the system as a whole. And in general I’m of the belief that useful targeted marketing & sales is better than blanket non-targeted efforts. So unless we are going to ban ALL pharma marketing (which will mean tossing a great deal of useful babies out with the bath-water) and fundamentally change how information about drugs is communicated to physicians, then getting rid of the IMS type data is not helpful.