Sunday, April 19, 2009

Latest Vermont Report--It's a Trade Secret

The state of Vermont, the pioneer state to require public reporting of all drug company payments to physicians above a threshold amount, has now released its latest annual report (for 2008):
What's down this year is the total payment amount--$2.9M compared to $3.1M in 2007. The significance of that change, if any, is very hard to determine, because what's up this year is the percentage of reports that have been labeled by the companies as constituting "trade secrets," and thus acccording to the law immune from reporting in detail--now making up 80% of all reported payments.

If companies consider 80% of all payments to prescription writers in Vermont to be trade secrets, they basically must be claiming that all such payments are trade secrets, which is another way of saying they do not intend to comply with the law requiring public disclosure of such payments. That in turn is a warning to other states and to the federal government now considering "sunshine" legislation--be sure not to include this trade secret loophole. A bill is pending in the Vermont legislature to close the loophole. Interesting enough, the Vermont medical Society and the Vermont Psychiatric Association both support the new bill; PhRMA, no surprise, opposes it.

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