Vermont gets tough on physician disclosure, bans gifts

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Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas signed bill S. 48 into law on June 8 which strengthens the state's disclosure requirements for physician payments. The law will take effect July 1.

The law expands a 2002 law governing pharmaceutical payments and gifts to physicians to include all manufacturers of prescription medical products -- drugs, biologics and devices. Now, all three categories of manufacturers must file annual reports to the state attorney general's office detailing payments made to prescribers. Also, those reports will be posted on a searchable state database.

One notable change of the new measure is the elimination of a reporting threshold. Under the current system, companies are required to report any payment of $25 or more. Now, any payment -- regardless of the amount -- must be included.

The new law also institutes a comprehensive ban on gifts to prescribers, regardless of the value. However, it does include some exceptions, such as drug samples and medical device demonstration products. Medical device loans also are permissible, although they are capped at 90 days.

Failure to comply with the law could result in civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation.