This article originally provided by
July 21, 2006
Don't conceal it
LOBBYISTS are required to disclose gifts and treats they lavish on
legislators in attempts to sway their votes. The same openness should be
expected of drug sales agents who shower money and goodies on physicians, trying
to persuade the doctors to prescribe their brands.
The state’s Pharmaceutical Cost Management Council originally proposed rules
ordering drug agents to identify any doctor given more than $10,000 worth of
“gifts, grants or payments” per year. But two large physician societies
protested, not wanting public embarrassment of doctors who take freebies.
Council members allied with the Manchin administration crawfished, allowing
such physicians to remain concealed. State Pharmaceutical Advocate Shana Phares
said the retreat was necessary because law didn’t empower the council to force
such disclosures. However, an opinion by Attorney General Darrell McGraw
contradicted her, saying the council has plenty of legal authority.
Phares should remember that she’s an advocate for patients who must buy
costly prescriptions — not an advocate for drug-sellers or doctors.
Now the council is scheduled to meet July 28 for a final vote on this issue.
We hope it supports the right of West Virginians to know which doctors accept
As we’ve said before, the disclosure process should distinguish between
physicians who merely accept sample drugs to give to poor patients, and others
who take posh trips, expensive gifts and other payola from drug agents. Such
important information shouldn’t be hidden from the public.