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Old 12-11-2007, 05:58 PM
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Harrison Harrison is offline
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Just a follow-up story from a Boston TV station...
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Penalties Posed For Rewarding Docs For Drug Switches

2 hours, 22 minutes ago

Penalties may be lodged against doctors who change prescriptions from brand-name drugs to generics without a patient's permission.

"We can't allow any system to exist that intrudes upon the sanctity of the doctor patient relationship," Rep. Peter Koutoujian said.

NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu reported that the public health chairman said the bill he plans to file Wednesday will make it illegal for any insurance carrier to financially reward physicians for switching the prescriptions or medical products of any patient.

In August, Team 5 Investigates first reported that Blue Cross of Michigan was paying doctors to substitute Lipitor with a generic of Zocor. Team 5 Investigates also uncovered a routine practice in Massachusetts where physicians receive financial reimbursements if they switch enough patients off brand name drugs.

Genie Holland, who had been on Lipitor for four years, was among those switched without her consent.

"I know now it was not a good decision, but I didn't make the decision -- the doctor did," Holland said.

"I've filed legislation based upon this NewsCenter 5 investigation," Koutoujian said.

Koutoujian said saving the insurance company or the patient money couldn't be the primary motive for switching medication.

"This may or may not be good for the patient, but with an incentive involved, we'll never know what the motivation was for this decision," Koutoujian said.

Holland said after several months on the generic, her cholesterol scores skyrocketed. The doctor increased the dosage, and Holland lost 25 pounds, but her cholesterol level is still too high. She said that she hopes the bill is passed into law.

"I'd like them to make it based on what works for me as the patient, rather than anything else," Holland said.

"If there are incentives or disincentives that are changing the agreements made between a doctor and a patient that are not good for the patient, than there's something wrong with that system," Koutoujian said.

Koutoujian said his bill would set a maximum fine of $10,000 for insurance carriers and doctors violating the ban. Meanwhile, Holland said she'll ask her doctor about switching back to Lipitor since it will only cost her an additional $5 per month. Unlike Holland, many patients switched off Lipitor have had no problems, and it has saved them a lot of money. But Koutoujian said medical efficacy -- not money -- should be the deciding factor.
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Fell on my ***winter 2003, Canceled fusion April 6 2004
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