Schumer: Stop the no-paper prescription bill

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 07/04/2013

The state’s senior senator visited Finch Paper Monday to outline his plans to stop legislation that could hurt the company’s business and make it more difficult to access information about prescription drugs.


Post Star.com  - July 2, 2013

The state’s senior senator visited Finch Paper Monday to outline his plans to stop legislation that could hurt the company’s business and make it more difficult to access information about prescription drugs.   Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, visited Glens Falls and spoke at Finch, calling a provision that would allow drug manufacturers to provide information online, rather than including a printed paper copy with every prescription, “very, very damaging to New York state, the Capital Region and Glens Falls.”

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation that includes the no-paper provision, which Schumer is urging be removed from the bill before it passes in the Senate.


“I have a little bit of clout in the Senate and I’m going to use every ounce of it,” Schumer said, of fighting the measure.


Finch Paper produces paper that the pharmaceutical inserts are printed on, and the company’s new president and CEO Deba Mukherjee said eliminating the inserts would have a significant impact on Finch’s business.


The paper manufacturer employs more than 650 people at its Glens Falls plant.


“We’re very concerned about this because whenever the demand for paper goes down, it impacts business,” said Mukherjee, who took the reins at Finch five weeks ago.


The provision is part of the recently passed House of Representatives bill and its companion Senate bill, which extend the Prescription Drug User Fee Act.


Schumer, flanked by Mukherjee and Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond, spoke before a few dozen Finch employees before touring an area of the company’s converting department on Monday.


How how much exactly the elimination of paper drug inserts would cost the local manufacturer is difficult to quantify, because the company doesn’t sell directly to pharmaceutical companies.


Finch Paper sells its products almost exclusively through a network of wholesalers or distributors. From there, the paper may be sold to a commercial printer or directly to pharmaceutical companies that have in-house print shops, company spokesman John Brodt said.


“At the very least, there are two steps between the two, sometimes three,” Brodt said.


Finch Paper, founded in 1865, has persevered through many industry changes, but the challenges the company is facing now are “greater than ever,” Mukherjee said.


“We would like to make sure this doesn’t go through,” Mukherjee said.


In addition to the concern that the provision could cost Glens Falls jobs, Schumer outlined concerns about the transition from print to online for health care providers and patients, especially among older people who may be less comfortable navigating the Internet.


Schumer called putting the information online a “good augmentation,” but cautioned against eliminating the paper inserts altogether.


The FDA approves the paper package inserts, but the House of Representatives legislation removes that requirement.


“If the inserts are removed, then you won’t have strict oversight by the FDA, plain and simple,” Schumer said.


Schumer estimated the bill would reach the Senate floor within the next month or so.