(TRENTON) – Aiming to increase transparency and limit the influence of pharmaceutical companies on public members of the Drug Utilization Board in the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the full Assembly on Thursday voted to unanimously approve (74-0) a bill to require public members of the Board to disclose financial ties to drug companies.
The Drug Utilization Board reviews and selects pharmaceuticals to be prescribed under Medicaid and New Jersey’s FamilyCare program without additional authorization. Drugs chosen by the board are more likely to be prescribed to beneficiaries, giving the maker of the drug a competitive edge.
The measure (A-277), sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato (D-Atlantic) and Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex), seeks to discourage pharmaceutical companies from attempting to influence public Board members in their favor. Under the bill, public members of the Board must submit a written disclosure to the New Jersey Department of Human Services and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General detailing any financial interests or benefits received by or through a pharmaceutical manufacturer, distributor or pharmacy benefit manager in the past three years. This includes gifts, meals, payments, stocks or salaries.
Public Board members would be required to submit disclosures quarterly. Those who fail to do so would be ineligible to serve as a Board member, and those already serving would be removed. An individual who submits a disclosure with false, misleading, inaccurate or incomplete information would be liable for a civil penalty of up to $20,000.
Assemblymen Armato and Karabinchak released the following statement on the bill:
“It’s no secret the pharmaceutical companies are often willing to do whatever they can to boost sales of their drugs. It’s not unheard of for companies to offer gifts, money, travel excursions and other perks to those with the power to promote their products.
“The Drug Utilization Board’s purpose is to maximize the efficacy of prescription drug therapies covered by Medicaid and New Jersey FamilyCare. Their work should always be in the best interest of the State and the people who rely on these medications for relief, not the big drug companies.
“It’s only fair that we ask public Board members to disclose any financial ties to pharmaceutical companies so that we may be confident their service is truly to benefit the people of New Jersey.”