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Sarah Lazare – A Surprise Shill for Big Pharma?

Patients groups have credibility and influence precisely because they ostensibly represent the ordinary people whose fate is in the hands of the health care system, from brain injury survivors to people living with cancer to individuals facing mental health problems.

Now a troubling new report [3] from the corporate watchdog group Public Citizen reveals that some patients groups are accepting donations from the pharmaceutical industry and then siding with it in backing policies that may contribute to higher drug costs for the very patients whose interests they claim to represent.

At issue is the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to undermine a reform proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would encourage doctors to prescribe cheaper medications that are equally effective as high-cost drugs. Known as the Medicare Part B demonstration project, the proposal would modify the reimbursement structure for prescription drugs “that are administered in a physician’s office or hospital outpatient department, such as cancer medications, injectables like antibiotics, or eye care treatments,” according to [4] CMS.

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