Prescription Drug Bill Pending in Senate

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(Host) The Vermont Senate gave its unanimous preliminary approval on Wednesday to legislation that is designed to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The bill allows the state to implement a competitive system for many drugs in both public and private sector programs. It also calls for significant price discounts for many Vermonters who don’t have pharmaceutical health insurance coverage.

The most controversial section of the bill imposes an annual $5,000 fee on all drug salespeople who visit Vermont doctors to promote their products. It’s a practice known as detailing.

Windham County Senator Peter Shumlin says money from the fees will be used to set up an alternative drug education program for physicians:

(Shumlin) “To finally get some controls on the industry’s effort at detailing doctors, they are now spending $23,000 a year to detail Vermont doctors. For every doctor in Vermont and every doctor in this country, basically what they do is they go and they pile them with free samples, they take them out to lunch or the Caribbean and they convince them to utilize the most high-priced drugs. And that’s helping to drive the market.”

(Host) The measure will come up for final approval in the Senate on Thursday.

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