The City Council of Washington, D.C., has approved legislation to regulate
pharmaceutical companies' marketing practices conducted in the District of
Columbia, including licensing pharmaceutical sales representatives. Passed on
January 8 by a 7-6 vote, this is the first regulation of its kind in the
The bill, known as the SafeRx Act of 2007, was sponsored by City Council
member David Catania (I), chair of the council's Health Committee. It requires
pharmaceutical sales representatives to be licensed by the District of
Columbia Board of Pharmacy before they can communicate with health care
professionals in the District in person for the purpose of promoting or
They are required to adhere to a professional code of conduct, which will
be established by the Board of Pharmacy, and prohibited from providing"
knowingly false information to physicians."
To be licensed, sales representatives are required to be at least college
graduates. In a press release Catania stated his belief that "the
current system promotes the use of the latest, most expensive drugs at the
expense of the best, most effective ones."
The act also includes a plan to create a program that will provide
drug-related information to physicians from noncommercial sources to counter
the influence of pharmaceutical companies' promotions. Similar programs have
been established by several states including Pennsylvania, New York, and
Vermont. The content of Pennsylvania's Independent Drug Information Service,
for example, is provided by Harvard Medical School. In addition, the bill
makes it illegal for members of D.C. medical advisory committees to receive
gifts from pharmaceutical companies.
The mayor of the District of Columbia, Adrian Fenty (D), has expressed
support for and is expected to sign the bill, according to the Washington