Vermont recently enacted a law (S.48) requiring doctors to publicly disclose any and all medical industry payments they receive. Under the law ‘medical industry payments’ includes any money and/or gifts made to healthcare providers. The healthcare providers are required to specify the names of the gift givers and the corresponding dollar amounts. The new law goes a step beyond just making all gift exchanges a matter of public record and bans nearly all industry gifts to doctors, nurses, medical staff, pharmacists, health plan administrators and healthcare facilities.
After the new law goes into effect on July 1, 2009, state citizens can learn which doctors have been paid by manufacturers of brand-named drugs that they have been prescribing their patients, or how much money surgeons have received from the makers of stents, pacemakers, artificial knees, and other implant devices. The law is designed to provide a window into the considerable efforts and spending by device and drug makers to influence doctors.
This law, and others like it, is in response to concerns that drug and medical device manufacturers exert too much influence over doctors and their practice. For more information on this debate, please see our March 2009 blog “Do Drug Companies Really Influence Doctor’s Decisions Regarding Dispensing Drugs to Illinois’ Residents?“.
Proponents of the new law say that the goal is not to prohibit the practice of payments to doctors but to have a system in which the providers’ acceptance of this money is on display for public view. Some of the larger drug companies that have made direct payments to doctors include Eli Lilly, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Merck, Forest Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer.
Other states such as Minnesota already require drug companies to report payments to doctors. In Massachusetts, regulations limit gifts to healthcare practitioners and call for disclosures of any payment or benefit worth $50 or more.
In the U.S. Congress, Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin have sponsored a bill requiring disclosure of pharmaceutical industry payments to doctors. To see Senator Grassley’s comments on the importance of the bill, click here.
Kreisman Law Offices has been practicing Illinois pharmaceutical malpractice cases and Chicago medical malpractice cases for over 30 years, serving areas of Cook County including Oak Forest, Arlington Heights, and Naperville.