Massachusetts Loosens Ban on Industry Gifts

Posted 10 July 2012 | By

The state of Massachusetts is loosening its controversial policy banning the pharmaceutical and medical device industries from giving physicians gifts, including compensated meals during continuing medical education.

The measure has come under increasing fire in recent years as the economy has come to dominate matters of political discussion. Massachusetts' restaurant industry claimed the measure was hurting business as pharmaceutical companies no longer wined-and-dined physicians at their establishments while conducting educational sessions, and the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in both 2011 and 2012 to repeal the law.

The measure was successfully added to the 2012 House budget proposal and was signed into law Sunday, 8 July by Governor Deval Patrick, who said the bill contained "tough but necessary decisions" designed to address a "challenging" fiscal environment.

According to The Boston Globe, Patrick has supported the changes, which he characterized as allowing only "modest" expenditures for "meals and refreshments" by industry to pay for training, which other experts say often takes place outside of normal office hours. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will later determine what constitutes a "modest" expense.

The move has brought praise from at least one industry group. In a statement, AdvaMed's General Counsel and Senior Executive, Christopher White, called the new policy "fair" and "balanced."

"AdvaMed is pleased Massachusetts aligned its law with federal Sunshine requirements and the principles outlined in the AdvaMed Code of Ethics, thus removing impediments to training on sophisticated medical technologies," wrote White. "The new law permits the payment of reasonable expenses necessary for technical training on the use of medical devices without the requirement for a pre-existing vendor purchase contract and requires the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to make publicly available and searchable on its website all disclosed data, among other provisions."

Read more:

The Boston Globe - Students, doctors protest easing of gift ban

AdvaMed - AdvaMed Commends Adoption of Revisions to "Gift Ban Law" in Massachusetts


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