Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas has signed a bill that calls for more restrictions on gifts from drug and medical-device makers to healthcare providers, and calls for more detailed disclosure of financial contracts between doctors and manufacturers for consulting and research activities.
The law, approved by the Legislature last month, was supported by the Vermont Medical Society.
The new law bans companies from paying for meals or travel expenses, and its text cited an April Vermont Attorney General report showing that drug manufacturers spent almost $2.94 million on fees, travel expenses and other direct payments for marketing purposes, with physicians receiving about $2.1 million of that total in the states fiscal 2008. Of that, almost $862,000just under 30%was spent on foodwith one individual reporting meals worth almost $15,800.
The prohibition does not apply to free drug samples for patients; distribution of peer-reviewed academic, scientific or clinical articles or journals that serve a genuine educational function; or financial support for medical students, residents and fellows to attend educational or policymaking seminars or conferences. A representative from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America industry trade group was not available for comment.