Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vermont's New Gift Ban

Apparently with little fanfare, Vermont put into effect as of July 1 the strictest pharmaceutical and device gift ban in the nation. Vermont had previously (2002) passed the pioneer state disclosure (sunshine) law, requiring the annual publication of all gifts to physicians over a certain threshold; but that law was rendered somewhat toothless by a provision allowing drug companies to withhold data they considered to be trade secrets. Not surprisingly, the companies thereupon discovered that 83% of all the money they gave to Vermont docs fell under the "trade secrets" category. The new law does much more than merely plug this loophole.

All gifts to physicians are now put into three categories--banned; allowed but must be disclosed; allowed and not disclosed. Most traditional gifts, such as meals, go into the "banned" category. Exceptions are drug samples provided free to patients; short term loan of devices for evaluation; and journal article reprints and equivalent "educational" material. Speaking, consulting, and research payments are allowed but must be disclosed. Royalties and licensing fees and rebates and discounts are exempt from disclosure.

Comments on the new law can be found at:
The latter compares the new Vermont law to the federal Physicians Payment Sunshine Bill. The federal bill, if passed, would probably pre-empt the reporting provisions of the Vermont law, but would not affect the bans.

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