City Council to vote on bill regulating pharma marketing

Philadelphia City Hall
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council is expected to vote, this week, on a bill to regulate pharmaceutical sales representatives. The bill stalled in December after furious lobbying by the drug industry. 

The opioid epidemic inspired the bill, but its sponsor says it's designed to prevent the next addiction. It would require sales representatives to register with the city, wear ID when making calls, submit for review any literature they hand out and prohibit free samples or gifts - including meals - to doctors.  

The last part is in response to research that shows doctors are more likely to subscribe a drug if the seller has given them even a small token. 

Pharmaceutical companies opposed it, but the face of the opposition was the city's hospitality industry.

READ: Officials expand medication-assisted treatment in opioid epidemic fight

Restaurants claimed it would cost them millions and tourism officials said the city would lose all bioscience convention business. 

Sponsor Bill Greenlee offered an amendment at last week's session, specifying the rules don't apply to conventions. 

"We're talking about the one-on-one, pharma rep to an individual doctor," Greenlee said. 

He also narrowed the covered drugs to those that are addictive and hopes he can now get the nine votes needed to pass it. 

"The pharma reps have to work a little harder to see their products but as a result of that, we think it saves people from getting addicted. If you look at those two balances, I don't know how you don't choose trying to save people from getting addicted," Greenlee added.