Vermont Gets Tough On Doctor/Pharma Relationships The new law “bans drug companies-and manufacturers of medical devices and biological products, such as vaccines-from paying for gifts, including meals and travel, to physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists, and health plan administrators. Any allowable payments drug companies make to doctors, such as those for legitimate educational purposes, will be posted in a database on a public website maintained by the Vermont Attorney General.” [Consumer Reports Health]

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  1. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Makes sense… although none of the docs in the family have gotten free travel from drug co’s in the past 5+ years…

    Hopefully they won’t make companies curtail sample packs – many docs give patients who can’t afford a prescription 10 sample packs at a time.

  2. Laura Northrup says:

    But what aboutpens?

  3. hills says:

    As much as I enjoy the free dinners (of which my dr. husband brings me home dessert or a bottle of wine), I gotta agree with Vermont – medical devices would be much less expensive if the companies weren’t hosting expensive steak dinners and conferences at hotels like the St. Regis in SFO & paying for travel and meals etc….

    • Esquire99 says:

      @hillsrovey:
      I doubt they would be “much” less expensive, but perhaps somewhat less expensive. Of course, the amount they make due to the increased volume probably more than pays for the cost of wining and dining the Doctors.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Esquire99:
        I believe the point is not befit the hospital’s bottom line, but to reduce the amount of influence a Pharma company has on patient choices. This common way of greasing the wheels of business through under the table kickbacks almost never benefits the consumer. Instead it allows the Pharma’s to dictate the terms of patient care.

      • humphrmi says:

        @Esquire99: It’s not just about the cost of the dinner. It’s about the cost to the patient because the doctor prescribes non-generic “Product X” because BigPharma, makers of Product X, took him to dinner.

        If you cut off a company’s sure-fire way to increase their revenue stream without being cost competitive, and they will instead try to increase their revenue by being competitive. That can only reduce costs.

        • henwy says:

          @humphrmi:

          Wait a minute, you’re saying that pharmaceutical companies actually get to see what a doctor is prescribing their patient? Isn’t that illegal? I don’t find anything wrong with a company wanting to give away lunches or pens as long as they can’t check to see if the doctor is actually prescribing their pills. That’s the way I thought it worked but you’re claiming there actually is a way for them tosee?

          • bohemian says:

            @henwy: Yes. This was covered by a couple of newspapers last year. There is direct pressure on doctors to prescribe these drugs. Someone is seeing what they prescribe Even if my name isn’t on that data I still see it as an invasion of my privacy.

  4. ARP says:

    My aunt worked in a doctor’s office for 10 years. She said she could count on her hands how many times she actually had to go out and get her own lunch.

  5. MooseOfReason says:

    Bill’s here, in case you actually wanted to read it:
    [www.leg.state.vt.us]

    Don’t worry, you’ll still see the Cialis tissue boxes and the Ambien coffee mugs.

    Also, the bill doesn’t prohibit indirect transfers. It just can’t be directly from the pharma company to a health care provider.

    Ah well. Laws will fix it.

    • J.J.Gittes says:

      You’ll see some old mugs, yes, but nothing new. Most of the pharma companies have stopped the giveaways. Now I’d like to see the politicians crack down on lobbyists. How many meals have they been bought?

  6. bohemian says:

    They need to make this a national law. They also need to ban direct to consumer advertising on TV and print.

    • J.J.Gittes says:

      Of course, because the consumer shouldn’t have any say in the matter. Just shut up and take your pills.

      • bohemian says:

        @J.J.Gittes: No, because the largest expense pharma companies have is marketing, not research. People are hammered with advertising for drugs constantly. It is not needed and there are venues to inform people of drug options that are not marketing efforts.

        • HiPwr says:

          @bohemian: I question your assertion that pharma companys’ greatest expense is “marketing, not research.” What’s your source on this?

        • CityGuySailing says:

          @bohemian: Boy are you soooo wrong. Do you have ANY idea how much money it takes to get a drug through the hoops the FDA has thrown up? WOW are you ignorant of those little tidbits. The pharmaceutical companies need sales to go through R&D to develop new drugs, which in turn has sales, which can then be poured into more R&D. Without the sales, no more R&D, and therefore no more new drugs. It is a vicious cycle.

          • oneandone says:

            @CityGuySailing: Funny. What you call ‘hoops the FDA has thrown up’ I’d call fundamental tests of a drug’s efficacy and safety. I guess we each have our biases.

            There will still be drug sales w/o direct-to-consumer advertisement. Pharmaceutical companies will endure.

            And even if they don’t, we’ll still have new drugs. Not all pharmaceutical research comes from corporations, and we shouldn’t be slavishly devoted to this terrible system. Keep what works, limit what doesn’t, and put more investment into academic & non-profit research.

  7. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    FANTASTIC. Now what’s everyone else’s excuse for not doing this??