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Government News
Want to Be a Drug Rep in D.C.? Better Get a License
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 3 page 10-10

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 United States.

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 selling products.

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 Post. ▪

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