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Drug and Device Marketing Gift Ban and Disclosure Law In The Balance: Act Now

Drug and Device Marketing Gift Ban and Disclosure Law In The Balance: Act Now

July 28, 2010

HCFA urges the legislature to put patients first and not repeal the drug and device gift ban and disclosure law. Section 105 in the House version of the the Economic Reorganization Bill would repeal Massachusetts’ groundbreaking drug and device marketing gift ban. HCFA urges Massachusetts residents to contact their Senator and Representative and tell them that they do not want pharmaceutical and medical device company marketing practices to come between patients and their doctors.

Currently, the gift ban and disclosure law forbids pharmaceutical representatives from wining-and-dining doctors to convince them to purchase brand name medications. It also requires disclosure of any ‘non-gift’ payments to providers. The gift ban and disclosure law is an essential part of Massachusetts’s efforts to curb health care costs and guarantee the ethical delivery of health services.

The gift ban and disclosure law encourages the drug and device industry to put a limit on the over $6 billion spent annually on direct-to-physician marketing. The logic of restricting the inherent conflict of interest that impacts patient-centered care is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that medical schools like UMass, Boston University and now Harvard have passed their own stringent gift ban and disclosure policies.

Opponents of the gift ban and disclosure law claim that it has forced medical conventions and drug and device manufacturers out of the Commonwealth and has caused a dramatic loss in profits in the restaurant industry. However, not only do medical conventions continue to flourish in Massachusetts, but a large number of drug and device manufacturers have in fact chosen to relocate to the Commonwealth since the gift ban was enacted. Further, it's clear that the recession, and not the gift ban, is the real reason behind restaurant industry losses, considering that states without a gift ban have experienced similar losses since 2008.

The Senate recently appointed a conference committee to reconcile their economic reorganization bill with the House version. HCFA hopes that the committee responds to Senator Montigny’s (one of the conferees) view that the ban benefits everyone—since “all taxpayers become patients.” Patients need the comfort of know that their doctor is prescribing in the best interests of the patient, free of inappropriate outside influences.
-Devin Cohen