UNITE HERE calls on US Senate to Prevent Secret Pharma Money

Aug 03, 2015, 15:16 ET from UNITE HERE

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- UNITE HERE sent letters this week to the Senate Committee on Health, asking Senators to put the brakes on a piece of legislation which would keep millions of dollars' worth of Big Pharma relationships to doctors' conferences secret. The letter was also signed by the Director and the Program Manager of PharmedOut, a Georgetown University Medical Center Project that promotes rational prescribing.

Section 3041 of the 21st Century Cures Act would remove reporting requirements surrounding Big Pharma payments to doctors and associations that take place in the context of Continuing Medical Education (CME). Section 3041 would allow millions of dollars' worth of Big Pharma gifts to doctors' conferences to happen behind closed doors. The bill just passed the House and is expected to be introduced in the Senate soon.

Aside from healthcare providers and drug reps, hospitality workers are among the only people who witness Pharma's presence at CME events. If Section 3041 becomes law, the rest of the public will never see what UNITE HERE members see.

In the past two months, UNITE HERE has collected over 9,000 signatures on a petition to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to eliminate drug money from CME.

"Medical meetings are important to our hospitality industry in Las Vegas and nationally," said Chad Neanover, a prep cook at the Margaritaville on the Las Vegas Strip. "We negotiate with our employers to have affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, this is constantly under attack as healthcare costs continue to skyrocket and pharmaceutical companies are influencing the medical industry."

UNITE HERE is concerned about ballooning costs for its members' healthcare plans. Prescription drugs, devices, and biologicals are a major factor in rising healthcare costs and the union is concerned doctors may be unduly influenced by contributions from Big Pharma to prescribe more expensive drugs when more affordable, generic alternatives are available.

UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in North America who work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.

UNITE HERE letter to the Senate Committee on Health: http://www.NoMoreDrugMoney.org/Senate