District of Columbia bill seeks to license sales reps

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The District of Columbia could become the first jurisdiction within the country to require the licensing of pharmaceutical sales representatives, pending the outcome of a bill being voted on Tuesday in the local DC Council.


If passed, councilmember David Catania's (I-At Large) “Safe Rx Act,” would require the formation of a pharmacy board to create a code of ethics for pharmaceutical salespeople and to license them.


Under the bill, DC reps would have to be college grads and would be prohibited from using titles that could lead doctors to think they are licensed to practice medicine, pharmacy, nursing or other fields of health.


The bill would also ban pharmaceutical manufacturers from using doctors' prescription data for marketing purposes without the doctors' knowledge.


Passage of the bill could also pave the way for other states to try to pass similar legislation, say people on both sides of the debate.


PhRMA spokesman Ken Johnson told The Washington Post that “The DC government should not be trying to insert itself into an arena that is already well-covered nationwide by federal agencies. “We should avoid the confusion of a patchwork quilt of local laws.”


About 3,000 to 4,000 sales representatives work in the DC region and cast a wide net outside the area, according to PhRMA.


Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the association, told The Post that Catania's bill is “a misuse of the District's resources.”


However Catania contends that because their salaries are based on commission, pharma sales reps can mislead doctors and patients into buying the most expensive drugs on the market.

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