Doctors and patients 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 Vioxx.”

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 Yee.

“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.

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