Oct. 19, 2017 – A New Jersey proposal to both prohibit prescribers from accepting even moderate meals and cap compensation for speeches, consulting or other services from pharmaceutical companies – in an attempt to target the unnecessary prescription of opioids – actually could be counterproductive in meeting that goal, according to Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp, who provided testimony on the proposed rule today.
“The most important reason to reject these rules as drafted is that the proposals may undermine one of the most important avenues to combat the opioid epidemic – the provision of FDA-regulated education events,” Kamp told New Jersey regulators (Kamp NJ Testimony 10.19.17). He noted that the proposed restrictions, which would cap physician incomes by limiting gifts from pharmaceutical companies to $10,000 per year and prohibit gifts of entertainment and meals of more than $15, could lead to “unintended consequences,” such as an exodus of doctors, researchers and medical students out of the state.
The current proposal “could unfortunately move many research and education dollars out of the state, to the detriment to its now-growing industrial and educational programs,” Kamp explained. He also noted that the proposal clearly discourages FDA-regulated education by directly limiting the number of meetings each prescriber can attend each year sponsored by a single company, and by indirectly limiting the sites where meetings can be held (through the $15 meal limit).
“Instead, New Jersey should encourage these FDA-regulated events because they provide incredible opportunities for the companies to give clinicians information on when and how to use drugs safely and effectively,” Kamp said.
“While the Coalition for Healthcare Communication agrees that opioid addiction is a significant public health issue deserving industry and government attention,” Kamp concluded, “these proposed rules will not only fail to alleviate the crisis, they may in fact make it far worse.”