DC considers pharma rep licenses, data mining limits

The District of Columbia is considering a measure which could make it the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to require pharmaceutical reps to obtain a license. The measure, the SafeRX act, would not only require such licenses, but would also ban pharmas from mining physician prescription data for marketing without the doctors' knowledge. The bill would create a pharmacy board whose job it would be to create a code of ethics for pharma reps, then issue rep licenses. As spelled out in the current measure, the reps would have to be college graduates, and would be barred from using titles suggesting that they had medical, pharmacy, nursing or other health degrees unless they did in fact have such degrees. The pharma industry, of course, says all of this is unnecessary; it contends that federal laws already address issues raised by the bill.

This measure opens up two large cans of worms. On the one hand, the proposed ban on prescription data mining is a big deal, given that New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont are locked in a legal battle over their imposition of similar rules. Meanwhile, it's currently unheard of for pharma reps to be licensed, despite widespread regulatory concerns over their tactics. 

To find out more about the SafeRX proposal:
- read this piece from The Washington Post

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