New Jersey may require pharma sales reps get to have state license

In New Jersey, several Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a state identification card for those lacking the personal documents required to get a federally compliant driver’s license. (WHYY file photo)

In New Jersey, several Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a state identification card for those lacking the personal documents required to get a federally compliant driver’s license. (WHYY file photo)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require pharmaceutical company sales representatives to be licensed by the state’s Board of Medical Examiners. 

As a condition of getting a license, the drug reps would have to complete training on ethics and alternatives to opioids for managing and treating pain.

The legislation could prevent valuable interactions between health care professionals and manufacturers, said  Angie Gochenour with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

“While we understand that this issue is being driven by some bad actors, one recent high-profile arrest shows that the attorney general currently has the ability to address the issue at the heart of the legislation and the current system is working,” she said. 

Pharmaceutical representatives told lawmakers ethical codes of conduct render additional regulations redundant and unnecessary.

But Joanne Chan with the PhRMA trade association acknowledged that the regulations vary from company to company.  

“Different companies do different things. I can’t represent what it is a company is doing,” said Chan. “Those are business decisions. But they all do have compliance programs in place.”

 Sen. Joseph Cryan expressed shock at the lack of industrywide standards. 

“It’s quite clear there is a need for legislation. Whether it’s in terms of fee limits, terms of continuing education, and clearly some standards in the industry in terms of these reps,” said Cryan, D-Essex. “So I’m convinced now that we need to move forward.”

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