Speculation surrounds Baucus' start

Share this article:
Iowa republican Charles Grassley is set to relinquish chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee when the new Congress convenes this month. Less certain is the direction his successor, Montanan Max Baucus, will take concerning the ongoing probe into pharma educational grants.

Caryn McDowell, counsel and director of corporate compliance, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, said it's hard to predict where the investigation will go from here. “Potentially we will get some data from the companies subpoenaed and a report from the (the committee),” she said, adding that there also may be internal investigations that the committee has yet to reveal.

Grassley has scrutinized medical-education grants given by some 23 drug firms, saying he suspects firms may be using grants as opportunities for off-label promotion and kickbacks. The firms have answered his call for data but so far his inquiry has not resulted in public enforcement.
Will that change under Baucus? “I don't necessarily think [CME] will be at the forefront of his committee,” McDowell said.

Baucus, a Democrat, might put more of an emphasis on how much the government pays for drugs vs. the issue of payments by drug firms to persons and organizations with regard to educational grants. “He's more interested in the Medicare Modernization Act and ensuring the pharmaceutical industry is playing by the rules,” McDowell said.

Baucus, serving in his fifth term in the US Senate, has given few indications of his priorities when he takes the gavel. At press time, Baucus' office did not return a phone call from MM&M.

In Grassley's last communiqué, issued to companies a year ago, he noted that grant processes had not been universally reformed and expressed concern that many manufacturers' sales and marketing personnel maintain a role in evaluating requests. 

Despite the changeover, Grassley is likely to stay involved in the probe. Said McDowell: “This is an issue that's near and dear to his heart.”

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Email Newsletters

MM&M Future Leaders


Register now

Early bird $1,950 before 31 October 2014

*Group discounts available on request 

MM&M EBOOK: PATIENT ACCESS

Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Channel

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Monday, September 15

Five things for pharma marketers to know: ...

Pharma has sought 76 meetings with FDA over biosimilars; Gilead licenses Sovaldi to India generic drugmakers; Pfizer and Ranbaxy Lipitor lawsuit dismissed.

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Why Novo Nordisk is choosing not to leverage Victoza's brand equity as it seeks a weight-loss indication for liraglutide.

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, September 12

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, ...

An FDA panel voted in favor of liraglutide for weight loss; Allergan investors backing an attempted takeover of the firm crossed a critical threshold; and 100 million health wearables are ...