Legislation in the city of Philadelphia that would have cut off pharmaceutical marketing research with doctors was defeated in the city council yesterday.

Bill No. 180888, introduced and passed out of committee in fall 2018, would have prohibited many payments from "pharmaceutical manufacturers and their agents to health care practitioners." Absent a specific carveout or clarification, the ordinance would likely have banned incentives for health care practitioners participating in marketing research studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, even though such studies are generally conducted by independent research companies and the sponsoring manufacturers are not typically aware of which practitioners participated.

Howard Schlesinger (Schlesinger Associates), Roni DasGupta (M3 Global Research) and Ileen Branderbit (Focus Pointe Global) joined the Insights Association for a meeting with Councilman Allan Domb on February 1 to explain those concerns and the potential impact on Philadelphia-based marketing research and data analytics businesses. The meeting built upon communications with councilmembers in 2018, and furthered discussions with others on the City Council.

The Philadelphia City Council then voted 9 to 5 to defeat Bill No. 180888 on February 7.

"We understand and appreciate Philadelphia’s concerns about opioid abuse," commented Insights Association VP Advocacy Howard Fienberg, "but banning or restricting respondent incentives for health care practitioners -- payments that solely encourage participation in research by a highly important and difficult to reach community -- would not help curtail the opioid crisis."

The Insights Association, the leading nonprofit organization representing the marketing research and data analytics industry, has helped other jurisdictions over the years to protect the use of respondent incentives in pharmaceutical marketing research, including Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and most recently California and New Jersey.

Fienberg urged Philadelphia to find other avenues to combat the opioid crisis: "Marketing research provides benefits far beyond just the insights delivered to clients. The kinds of studies that the Philadelphia bill would have prevented can help control health care costs, prevent medical errors, ensure patients get needed treatment, improve acceptance and adoption of needed drugs, eliminate drug side effects, and improve public health."

[Pictured above, from left to right: Insights Association grassroots volunteers Howard Schlesinger, Roni DasGupta, and Ileen Branderbit]