September 14, 2001
Relayed by Joanne Landy, MPH, MA, Executive Director, PNHP-NYC
Oliver Fein, M.D., Chair, Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Chapter:
“Dear PNHP-NYC members and friends,
“How are you? Many of us have been completely absorbed with the medical and psychological response to the World Trade Center disaster. Now, we must prepare for the aftermath. As health professionals, we are likely to experience both the physical and emotional impact among our patients and colleagues for months. As health progressives, we must seek ways to understand the roots of this week’s tragedy and propose positive ways to avert such horrors in the future. At the same time, we must continue our efforts at health system reform. In this spirit, we have decided to press forward with our September 21 protest against the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to influence physicians (see forthcoming e-mail), to conduct our speaker’s training workshop on September 22; and, to hold our forum featuring Fitzhugh Mullan on “Big Doctoring: Primary Care-Essential but Endangered” on September 25. I hope to see you all at one or more of these events; apart from the specific agenda, it will be good to be together at a time like this.”
And the message on the September 21 protest:
A CALL TO PROTEST DRUG COMPANIES’ INFLUENCE ON DOCTORS
Plaza Hotel Friday, September 21, 6-7pm
On September 21, physicians will congregate at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for a gala event sponsored by Forest Pharmaceuticals, which has paid doctors $500 plus a free night with meals at the Plaza to attend a seminar that will promote its anti-depression drug Celexa. Across the country there is mounting protest against attempts by drug companies to manipulate doctors’ decisions about which drugs they prescribe. Join us in front of the Plaza at 59th St. and 5th Ave. from 6 to 7 pm for a press conference and protest demonstration.
Consider these facts:
· The pharmaceutical industry spends more on marketing than it spends on research and development (one company alone spent $136 million/year promoting just one medication – that’s more than Coca-Cola spent advertising Coke in that year).
· The pharmaceutical industry spends more on drug promotions (>$10 billion) than all U.S. medical schools spend on teaching students.
· Despite doctors’ beliefs to the contrary, studies have shown that drug company promotions, such as this event at the Plaza, do distort prescribing patterns.
· Meanwhile, millions of Americans do not have insurance to cover medications. Even Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs, except when you’re in a hospital. Yet, pharmaceutical costs are rising faster than the costs of doctors and hospitals. Many Americans must forgo their medicines in favor of such necessities as food and housing.
We call on the pharmaceutical industry to stop its excessive spending on marketing and to lower the price of prescription drugs.
We call on Congress to limit pharmaceutical prices for everyone by purchasing drugs in bulk, price controls, or a combination of these mechanisms, as is done in other countries throughout the world.
We call on Congress to enact a Medicare drug benefit. As a first step, we urge Congress to pass legislation that regulates pharmaceutical prices, such as the Allen-Johnson bill (HR 1400/S 699) that lowers drug prices for Medicare patients to the average price that the drugs are sold in other developed countries. This legislation is expected to reduce prices for brand-name drugs by 40 percent, and will make a Medicare drug benefit much more affordable.
SPONSORED BY PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM (New York Chapter) 2840 Broadway, #297 New York, NY 10025
Comment: We all must follow New York’s inspirational lead in moving forward with health care reform.