Doctors, say goodbye to your free vacations, mugs, and even pens you get from pharmaceutical companies. If you live in Massachusetts or Vermont, the state has passed regulations banning physicians from receiving gifts from pharmaceutical companies. In Vermont, getting a free meal is also banned while Massachusetts limits it. This regulation grows out of a recent movement to keep drug companies from inducing physicians to prescribe their pharmaceuticals, thus cutting costs in prescription drugs.
In Massachusetts, applicable companies will be required to disclose any payments made to physicians and hospitals for research aimed at promoting a particular product. The first disclosures are due July 1, 2010.
Opponents of the regulation are concerned that the regulation will limit the information to opinion-shaping and prominent opinion-shaping physicians and prominent teaching hospitals. Additionally, Robert Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council says, "Massachusetts is now seen as the most unfriendly state in the nation toward industry...In these tough economic times, you don't want to send a chilling message to an industry that's a growth industry."
Other states aren't far behind Massachusetts and Vermont; Oregon, Texas, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, and Maryland are all considering passing regulations banning all gift giving.