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25 April 2008

Connecticut Wants To Ban Pharma Gifts

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked for help against influence wielded by drugmakers in formal testimony before the state’s Legislature.

Blumenthal wants to make it illegal for drugmakers to give gifts or other benefits to physicians, citing it may influence their health care decisions despite a code of ethics the industry has already adopted.

In his view, the current code is meaningless and unenforceable. Drug companies spend more than $11 billion per year on relentless direct marketing of their drugs.

Specifically, Blumenthal proposes that Connecticut law:

* Prohibit any gifts, scholarships or other items in exchange for prescribing products, a commitment to continue prescribing products or to otherwise interfere with the independence of a health care provider’s prescribing practices;
* Prohibit any gifts for the personal use of a health care provider;
* Prohibit any gifts to a health care provider for business use except for items of minimal value such as post-its, note pads, etc;
* Limit gifts for patient benefit to free samples of prescription drugs and items valued under $100;
* Prohibit any gifts or payments to health care providers for attending conferences but allow financial sponsorship of such conferences if the benefit of the sponsorship is distributed evenly among all attendees through reduced conference fees;
* Regulate payments to health care providers to serve as consultants, requiring written contracts, documentation of the criteria and the selection process for such consultants, articulation of the legitimate need for such consultant services; and
* Require all recipients of scholarships and other financial educational assistance to be selected by the participating academic or training institution and not the drugmaker.


* Legal April 22, 2008

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