Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said in a letter this week (PDF)
that he will support amendments to the state's law banning drug and medical-device companies from giving gifts to healthcare providers.
Legislation banning gifts to providers was passed in 2008. The Massachusetts Public Health Council
later issued related regulations in March 2009.
The changes would allow manufacturers to pay for “modest meals and refreshments” during educational presentations for healthcare providers.
In the July 3 letter to two national leaders of the American Medical Student Association's “PharmFree” campaign, Patrick said companies will now be required to make quarterly reports detailing presentations where meals and refreshments were served and the total cost for manufacturers.
“There are concerns that the law and the regulations do not strike the appropriate balance,” Patrick said in the letter. “This narrow change will afford healthcare providers some flexibility to be educated on new clinically relevant products and allow them to stay informed on advancements in pharmaceuticals and medical devices that benefit patients and lower our healthcare costs.”
A spokeswoman for Patrick said the changes to the gift-ban law are included in the state's fiscal 2012 budget, which is expected to be signed Sunday.