BOSTON The state senate of Massachusetts voted unanimously to ban all gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical companies, becoming the first state ever to ban the practice
According to published reports, the ban on gifts is just another part of major reforms being conducted to control the increase of health care-costs. Lobbyists for the healthcare industry have argued that restricting educational materials to be given to doctors could hurt patient care. The bill passed through the Senate 36-0, even though the medical community and pharmaceutical companies strongly opposed the bill.
The bill forces pharmaceutical companies to obtain state licenses for sales agents and, according to published reports, all agents who violate the law will be fined 5,000. According to State Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) the principal author of the gift ban, felt that it was an important step to improve the healthcare industry.“This will prevent the illicit marketing that is compromising the doctor-patient relationship,” Montigny said. “Billions is being spent on schmoozing and sending doctors on junkets, and it shouldn’t be happening.”
Such states as Vermont and Minnesota have similar bans that have a monetary limit on gift giving, but the complete ban in Massachusetts is the first in America to be implemented. The bill still needs approval from the House of Representatives and Governor Deval Patrick.