Mass. governor repeals part of gift ban law

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Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick

In 2008, the state of Massachusetts passed a controversial bill requiring payments of more than $50 to physicians from industry to be reported. But on July 3, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick repealed part of the Massachusetts Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban and Disclosure Law, which will now allow pharmaceutical or device companies to pay for “modest meals and refreshments.”

The controversial legislation, tapped the “gift ban” law, went into effect July 1, 2009. Payments of more than $50 were later published to a website beginning November 2010.

“This narrow change will afford healthcare providers some flexibility to be educated on new clinically relevant products and allow them to stay informed on advancements in pharmaceuticals and medical devices that benefit patients and lower our healthcare costs,” Patrick wrote in a letter to David Tian and Reshma Ramachandran, who are medical students and members of the American Medical Student Association PharmFree Campaign.  

The PharmFree campaign goal is to reduce the amount of dependence physicians place on pharma companies. The Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban and Disclosure Law aims to curtail the amount of marketing activities of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries in Massachusetts.

Patrick said that with the change, companies must still make quarterly reports to the Department of Public Health outlining education presentations where meals and refreshments were provided.

Many associations, including Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), have commended the governor’s decision to refine the legislation.

“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,” Christopher White, general counsel and senior executive vice president of AdvaMed wrote in a statement.