Yet another legislative effort is underway to allow drug makers to provide health plans with key data about their medicines before regulatory approval. Specifically, a House subcommittee recently endorsed the notion, which would grant the pharmaceutical industry a long-standing wish, but has consumer advocates on edge.
Here’s why: Drug makers have regularly argued they should be permitted to provide scientific and economic information to health plan committees that decide which medicines to cover. By conveying such data, health plans can get a jump on making budget decisions that can take weeks or months. And the sooner a drug is covered by insurance, the sooner a drug maker can ring the proverbial register.
And so, the Pharmaceutical Information Exchange Act would give drug companies a green light to discuss their data with health plan decision makers about medicines not yet approved, as well as new uses for medicines that are already on the market. A key caveat would be the information must be truthful and not misleading, a nod toward court cases that reviewed free speech rights of drug makers.