Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Massachusetts Gift Law: The Industry Took Notice

Thanks to our friends over at the Prescription Project, we learned of Gov. Patrick's signing the new law in Massachusetts requiring reporting of Pharma gifts and requiring the state to have standards at least as strict as the new PhRMA code of conduct (here's the AP coverage):

What is most notable for us about this was the huge lobbying effort put out by both Pharma and the biotech industry to pressure the Gov not to sign. The Prescription Project quoted:

“I have a lot of respect for the governor, and I am proud that he did not bend to the pressure,” state Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny (D-New Bedford) told the Standard-Times. “I have never seen lobbying this intense. They have been swarming the Statehouse for weeks.”

The industry took out a full page ad in the Boston Globe and the biotech people pulled out one of their standard chestnuts (as I personally got to hear a while ago in a Texas Senate committee hearing), the threat that if the law passed they'd take all their lucrative biotech jobs and move to a different state.

Unfortunately, given the way the industry plays so many of its cards so close to the vest, often the only way to get a pulse on what matters most is to see what the industry lobby fights hardest against. This is frankly a rare instance of the lobby not getting its way at the state level--which is not to say that Congress has historically had any more spine in standing up to them. With anti-Pharma hearings now a regular feature of Capitol Hill, we will have to wait to see if things are really changing.

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