Senate Health Committee Passes Prescription Drug Safety Bill

In an Opening Salvo of the "Year of Health Reform," Senate Health Committee Passes Prescription Drug Safety Bill

Doctors and patients are one step closer to getting information on effectiveness and side effects of medicine

The Senate Health Committee passed the Pharmaceutical Drug Information
and Safety Act, SB 606 (Scott), which will require pharmaceutical
companies to make the clinical studies they conduct publicly available.

"This year has been dubbed the ‘year of health reform’ by
Governor Schwarzenegger, and this bill is a big part of it," said Steve
Blackledge. "Our doctors need complete information when they make
prescribing decisions, and many consumers want the same information
before walking into a pharmacy to get a prescription filled."

In testimony, Blackledge noted that in the case of Vioxx, the
drug’s maker had uncovered information in a clinical study showing an
increased risk of heart attack and stroke, but Merck was not required
to make that information public. Meanwhile, the company continued to
tout its drug, even going so far as to put out a news release with the
headline, "Merck Confirms Favorable Cardiovascular Safety Profile of

Supporting the bill in addition to CALPIRG were the California Board of
Pharmacy (a board within the California Department of Consumer
Affairs), Consumers Union, California Labor Federation (AFL-CIO),
Health Access, Congress of California Seniors, the California
Association of Retired Americans, AIDS Health Care Foundation, Consumer Federation of California and others.

Voting for the measure were Senators Sheila Kuehl (chair), Elaine
Alquist, Gil Cedillo, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Darrell Steinberg, and Leland

"We thank Senator Scott for his perseverance on this bill, and
we thank the senators who stood up to the drug industry and its
lobbyists and passed this meaningful protection," added Blackledge.
"Their efforts and votes help to ensure that patients will get the
safest, most effective prescriptions possible."

The bill moves to the Senate floor next.