AMA to give prescribing data to doctors

June 8, 2007

The AMA has launched a new electronic newsletter and self-assessment tool called AMA Therapeutic Insights Today. Besides providing evidence-based guidelines for drug therapy, the newsletter supplies state and national data on which drugs are prescribed most frequently for specific conditions.

The AMA has launched a new electronic newsletter and self-assessment tool called AMA Therapeutic Insights Today. Besides providing evidence-based guidelines for drug therapy, the newsletter supplies state and national data on which drugs are prescribed most frequently for specific conditions. In a later phase of the program, doctors will also be able to go to the website of IMS Health, the company that supplies the prescribing data to the AMA, to compare their own prescribing patterns to those of peers in the three specialties that write the most prescriptions for a particular disease.

Right now, Therapeutic Insights Today addresses only one condition, migraine headaches, but more disease states will be added within the next year. The newsletter is currently available to physicians in California, Connecticut, and New York, the states where the AMA has been testing the program since last July. It will be rolled out to more states and, in some cases, individual counties as state and local medical societies request it, says FP Edward L. Langston, chair-elect of the AMA. Only AMA members will be eligible for the program, which carries level 1 CME credit, unless a health plan asks to have it provided to all of its participating doctors.

The IMS data on the prescriptions written by individual physicians has been available to pharmaceutical companies for years, and many of them provide the data to their drug reps when they visit doctors. Many physicians don't like the fact that the detailers have this data on them. As a result, some states are considering legislation that would curtail the practice. The AMA, meanwhile, has a Physician Drug Restriction Program that allows doctors to opt out of letting drug companies give this data to their reps. If they ask not to be included on the list, and a pharmaceutical firm ignores that request, it can lose access to IMS and AMA Masterfile data.

Asked whether Therapeutic Insights Today is an attempt to turn the tables on the drug companies, Langston would only say that the program grew out of discussions the AMA had with the California Medical Association about doctors' concerns regarding the drug detailers' use of IMS data.

Ultimately, Langston adds, the AMA views this as an educational device. "I could ask for my own data, and I could compare myself to my peers and see where I am. And that might be a valuable tool."