Thursday, November 19, 2009

Julie Brill Nominated to FTC: A Message to Drug Manufacturers?

The Obama administration may have sent a subtle message to drug manufacturers Monday, when it nominated Julie Brill to be one of two new commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission. The message? Make sure your marketing practices don’t collide with consumers’ best interests.

Brill has overseen consumer protection for states since 1988, with a major emphasis on watching over the pharmaceutical industry. She spent most of that time (1988 until February 2009) in Vermont, as assistant attorney general, when the state became an epicenter for cracking down on drug marketing practices.

You’re familiar with Vermont’s public disclosure of manufacturer payments and gifts to physicians? Yep, Brill was behind that. How about the law cracking down on using physician prescribing data for marketing purposes? That was one of hers too.

And there were those big settlements with PBMs, when they were accused of switching patients’ prescriptions for their own financial advantage. Brill was an important driver behind that deal. Interestingly, FTC very recently opened an investigation into the practices of one of the biggest PBMs, CVS Caremark, and how they impact consumers (see “The Pink Sheet” coverage of this investigation here).

Of course, Brill has other interests – privacy and antitrust issues are big ones – but as a commissioner, she’ll have a big say in what practices get investigated.

She still needs to be confirmed by the Senate, and the process will involve a hearing before the Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Rockefeller, not one known for his kind words about the pharmaceutical industry. It will be interesting to see how much of that hearing will focus on her pharma-related activities (see more about Julie Brill here in “The Pink Sheet” DAILY).

No comments: