Yesterday’s House vote to repeal the state’s gift ban and disclosure law is a step back from Massachusetts’ landmark health reform law. We are disappointed that some House members chose to put drug and device profits ahead of patients’ health. And we thank those members who fought to keep the law intact.
Research shows that giving gifts to prescribers influences which drugs they prescribe for patients. And drug and device companies promote the most expensive, name-brand, least-proven drugs. In addition to the billions of dollars spent annually on prescriber marketing, the drug and device companies’ profits rise as a result of the marketing. The return on investment for drug and device marketing can be as high as 500%, which is why the companies spend so much money marketing- double what they spend on research and development. Our gift ban and disclosure law curbs not only the initial marketing expensive, but protects businesses and consumers from rising prescription drug costs. All patients should be able to get the drugs they need at an affordable price. For more background on the need for this law check out our earlier blogs (here and here).
During yesterday’s debate, there was discussion about what our law does and does not do. For details, check out the DPH pharma/med website here, but here is a quick summary:
- Meals are allowed in a hospital setting, which mirrors the voluntary pharma and med device codes of conduct. The voluntary codes do not allow meals off-site at restaurants.
- Massachusetts is joined by Vermont (which has the strongest law in the nation) and Minnesota in having gift bans in effect and several other states are seeking to implement laws in the next year. Several Massachusetts’ institutions have put complete bans and disclosure requirements in place: Boston University, UMass, and Partners Healthcare.
- Massachusetts is the recipient of the most federal research dollars annually. Our law specifically exempts disclosure of research-related payments.
- Our law does not set an annual limit on the amount of money a company can spend on a prescriber, however there is a point ($50) at which the drug or device company must disclose how much was spent and for what purpose.
This drug and device gift ban and disclosure law keeps marketing money from getting between the patient and their prescriber. It should not be repealed.