Wednesday, March 01, 2006

CA proposes "No More Vioxx" Legislation


No-More-Vioxx Legislation Introduced

SACRAMENTO—Responding to public outcry over recent prescription drug scandals, CALPIRG and Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena) have introduced legislation in Sacramento to make sure that drug companies finally come clean about the safety of the medicines. The bill, SB 1683, requires drug companies to publicly disclose the results of all their clinical trials for each drug they sell in California.

“No one would expect consumers to buy a car without knowing the gas mileage or how it would hold up in an accident,” said Emily Clayton, CALPIRG’s Health Care Advocate. “Yet, when it comes to lifesaving medicines, current law allows the pharmaceutical industry to keep much of this safety and effectiveness information from us. That’s wrong and it’s time for California to fix the problem.”

While many states have considered legislation regarding clinical trials, SB 1683 is broader and stronger than existing bills. Because it applies to all FDA-approved medicines sold in California, SB 1683 would give everyone with an internet connection unprecedented access to the results for virtually every pharmaceutical industry-sponsored clinical trial conducted over the past several decades.

“For many years, I have been concerned that consumers simply do not have enough access to information regarding pharmaceutical drugs and their testing history. Recently, we have seen the effects of a lack of information. The goal of this legislation is to keep Californians healthy and safe,” said Scott. “This is also the least costly and most direct way to provide information to our citizens.”

In addition to addressing safety concerns, the legislation also tackles the problem of overpriced and underperforming medicines. Because researchers, doctors and the general public will have access to all of the health and effectiveness studies conducted by manufacturers, they will finally be able to clearly compare medicines in the light of day.

Once accurate comparisons can be made on issues of safety and effectiveness, drug companies may have a much harder time convincing doctors and patients that expensive brand-name drugs are worth two or three or ten times the price of equally safe and effective generic drugs.

“The drug companies like to talk the talk about competition in a free marketplace,” said Clayton. “But a free market demands a free flow of information. Let doctors and patients be the judge of which drugs are worth the price based on complete information—not just the information the drug companies want us to know.”

Will this serve as a model for other states?