Vermont Legislature Passes Law Regulating All Drug/Device Company Marketing, Requiring Disclosure of Gifts to Doctors
The Vermont Legislature has passed legislation (S 48) that bans nearly all gifts from pharmaceutical and medical device companies to health care providers, administrators and facilities in the state, the New York Times reports. The legislation specifically would prohibit drug and device makers from giving providers no-cost meals. Vermont's legislation would go further than similar laws in other states like Massachusetts and Minnesota by requiring drug and medical device manufacturers who give gifts to health providers to publicly disclose recipients' names and dollar amounts of payments and gifts. The measure would not require manufacturers to disclose payments for clinical research of products undergoing FDA review, the Times reports. The legislation also would eliminate a loophole that allows manufacturers to conceal certain expenses by claiming them as trade secrets.
In a recent report, the Vermont Office of the Attorney General said that medical product makers spent about $2.9 million on promotional efforts to the state's health care providers in fiscal year 2008 and that nearly half of the state's 4,573 licensed providers had received some type of incentive from drugmakers in the same year. The report, which was developed prior to passage of the new legislation, offers only aggregate data, as 83% of the manufacturer-declared payments were deemed to be trade secrets, the Times reports.
Gov. Jim Douglas (R) is expected to sign the law, which would take effect July 1. Several state medical groups -- including the Vermont Association for Mental Health and the Vermont Medical Society -- have indicated support for the legislation.
Marjorie Powell, a senior lawyer for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the requirements under the new law appear redundant with new voluntary guidelines the group has issued on physician gifting practices. She said, "We think this is unnecessary, and it is not going to improve patient care," adding, "It makes it onerous not only for the company but also for the physician in Vermont, because this is going to be on a Web site" (Singer, New York Times, 5/20).