Drug Companies Spent $2.9M in Vermont Last Year Marketing to Providers, AG Report Says
Seventy-eight pharmaceutical companies spent more than $2.9 million on marketing their products and providing gifts to physicians, hospitals and universities in Vermont during the last fiscal year, according to a report released Wednesday by the state attorney general's office, the AP/Boston Globe reports.
Vermont's Pharmaceutical Marketing Disclosure Law, adopted in 2002, requires drugmakers to report annually their spending on consulting and speakers' fees, travel expenses, gifts, and other payments to physicians, hospitals, universities and others who prescribe medications. The companies contend that the spending goes toward education programs about the medications for physicians and patients, adding that they use feedback from prescribers and patients when developing their medications.
According to the report, drugmakers Eli Lilly, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Merck, Novartis and Pfizer were the biggest spenders. The report also found that 25 physicians and nurses received more than $20,000 in cash or benefits from the companies, 10 received more than $50,000 and one psychiatrist received $112,000. In 2007, 84 companies reported spending $3.1 million, according to the report. In addition, the report found that from 2004 to 2008, the number of drug companies reporting payments increased by 40%, but the amount being spent dropped by 30%.
The law does not allow the state to report the names of payment recipients if the pharmaceutical companies deem it a "trade secret." State Attorney General William Sorrell (D) said more than 80% of expenditures analyzed were designated as trade secrets. A bill under consideration in the Vermont Legislature would eliminate the trade secret exemption for payments (Curran, AP/Boston Globe, 4/16).