Evil regulators, greedy drug companies and gift bans

On Saturday,  New Hampshire’s Dr. Kevin’s retweets  a 2009 post  with a photo of a huge Schering-Plough placard from a Boston meeting of emergency department docs.  In response to state bans on drug makers offering doctors gifts and free meals,  the sign asks those from Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts to “please refrain from consuming the food and/or beverages offered at this exhibit…”  

Why the old tweet? Perhaps as a follow-up on a  post about a study that found many docs found “physicians’ generally positive attitudes toward drug and device manufacturers’ marketing activities.”

According to the law, Massachusetts prohibits companies are barred from from providing “meals” to doctors outside the hospital or office, with several exceptions, including this one.  

 ..”a CME provider or conference or meeting organizer may, at its own discretion, apply any financial support provided by a pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company for the event to provide meals for all participants.”

The Minnesota law doesn’t mention meals but allows “gifts” up to $50 in value.

New Hampshire’s Dr K. says it’s “almost farcical.” Some would argue that it IS farcical –designed to make regulators sound like overbearing parents. The rules, supporters say, are designed to get at more lavish gift like expensive dinners and travel, not coffee and pens. Opponents say the rules go too far.

 Check out Dr. K’s repost:

I’ve heard similar stories from other national meetings, where, for instance, doctors from Massachusetts are barred from attending dinner CME lectures or other educational activities. Driver licenses are indeed checked.

I understand the crackdown on accepting drug company gifts, but I wonder if there’s any resentment from these doctors for being blatantly singled out.

But, according to the Massachusetts state law, companies are barred from providing “meals” to doctors, with several exceptions, including this one:  

 ..”a CME provider or conference or meeting organizer may, at its own discretion, apply any financial support provided by a pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company for the event to provide meals for all participants.”

In July Radio Boston’s offer an in-depth look look at the Massachusetts gift ban:

 Last year, Massachusetts enacted what is considered the country’s most stringent ban on gifts and meals to doctors from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. But last week the House quietly voted to repeal the ban, citing a negative impact on restaurant and convention business. One year in, we examine the impact of the gift ban and its future.

Since this program aired, the effort to repeal the device died with the Senate taking action on it. See Mass Device for more.

 In the meantime, BHN will check in with Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts to find out if the state laws bar docs from “consuming the food and/or beverages” offered at an exhibit.” Will also check out those stories of carded doctors.

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