Mass PIRG Urges Drug Price Advertising

UHS Director Wacker Agrees

Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of the University Health Services, said yesterday he supports the Massachusetts Public interest Research Group's effort to repeal the state ban on the advertisement of prescription drug prices.

Ronald E. Bogard, executive director of Mass PIRG, called Wednesday on the Board of Registration in Pharmacy to support the repeal of regulations prohibiting the advertisement of drug prices.

Mass PIRG, a group inspired by Ralph Nader, has sponsored similar repeal bills which were defeated in the 1973 and 1974 sessions of the state legislature.

Bogard said Wednesday that the banviolates the first and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.

The state courts of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida have already found similar regulations to be unconstitutional because they deny the consumer information.


Edward Nassiff, a retail pharmacist and member of the five-man registration board, said yesterday he too opposes advertising. "It would initially increase the sale of cheaper generic products at the expense of brand name firms," he said. "But once the generic pharmaceutical houses gain control of the market, they will raise prices."

Not Clear Cut

"The question is anything but clear cut," Wacker said. "Some generic brands are as good as name brands," he said, and added it is up to the pharmacist and the physician to know which generic products are acceptable.

Dr. Sholem Postel, associate director of the Health Services, said yesterday that the question of advertising is secondary to the issue of adequate control of the quality of drugs.

The Federal Drug Administration monitors the quality of about 15 per cent of the drugs currently being produced.

Since its founding in 1972, Mass PIRG has advanced programs designed to protect what it calls "the consumer's right to know." The group's interest in the area of prescription drugs, Bogard said, is part of this effort.