HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Return of Pete Stark

Representative Pete Stark (every health care fraud and abuse attorneys favorite lawmaker) is back with some a new idea for combatting fraud in our  health care system.  This time his legislation aims to reduce pharmaceutical companies gift giving to doctors.  The new statute is entitled the "Prescription Drug Safety and Affordability Act," which would eliminate the tax deductions that drug companies currently receive for gifts they give to physicians to influence prescribing behavior.  According to the American Chronical,

“Corruption is no more appropriate in the halls of our nation’s hospitals than it is in the halls of Congress,” Rep. Stark said. “Taxpayers should not pick up the tab for drug industry lobbying that corrupts the doctor-patient relationship. When doctors are influenced to prescribe the wrong drugs, people die.” . . .

“My bill denies tax deductions to pharmaceutical companies for wasteful spending on perks and potentially illegal kickbacks,” Stark said. “Instead of wining and dining doctors, this legislation would encourage drug companies to lower drug prices and conduct additional research.” . . .

“The Hippocratic Oath compels doctors to act in the best interests of their patients,” Stark said. “As Congress investigates its own ethics, it should also review immoral relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians.”

My favorite line, "when physicians are influenced to prescribe the wrong drugs, people die."  Representative Stark seems to have a very negative view of the medical profession and its ethics.  Thanks to Orly Rumberg for this information.  A brief release from the House of Represenatives is here.  [bm]

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