States Consider Regulations on Industry Gifts to Physicians
At least nine states are considering bills that would require pharmaceutical companies to publicly report annual gifts to physicians, hospitals and pharmacists, the USA Today reports.
Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia currently have laws requiring the reporting of gifts. California requires that drug companies declare they are in compliance with federal and industry gift guidelines.
Many of the state proposals under consideration this year are modeled after the Vermont law, enacted in 2002, which requires drugmakers to report to the state's attorney general all gifts of $25 or more given to doctors, hospitals or pharmacists. Aggregate numbers are published but not the names of gift recipients.
Some of the state proposals would be more restrictive, such as a Massachusetts bill that would ban all gifts to medical professionals from drugmakers.
Ron Buzzeo, chief regulatory officer for Dendrite International -- which advises the pharmaceutical industry -- said, "Within a year or two, we may have 20 or 25 states with these restrictions."
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America says such laws are unnecessary.
Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for PhRMA, and others said that the industry has cut back on large gifts and that visits from sales representatives who bring free lunches to doctors provide an "important educational function," the USA Today reports (Appleby, USA Today, 2/17).
In related news, the Detroit Free Press on Friday examined the debate over whether "the practice of doctors accepting freebies ... undermines patient care and should be banned." A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about 90% of the pharmaceutical industry's marketing budget is directed at doctors. The JAMA article proposed that academic medical centers end the practice of accepting gifts (Merx, Detroit Free Press, 2/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.