Case study: Miami drug reps not registering as lobbyists

Right now, sentiment is high on Capitol Hill to expose the money flowing to doctors from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. A look at what's happening in some markets right now, however, points to how hard it will be to get compliance, even if such a law is enacted.

For example, in Florida's Miami-Dade County, medical sales reps seem to be sidestepping a county regulation that demands they register as lobbyists when they sell to the county's sprawling Jackson Memorial Hospital. The reps are also supposed to spell out how much they spend when romancing Jackson employees, according to a report from a Boston-based research group.

To date, a mere 57 reps have registered themselves. Many major companies are missing from the registration lists, including Pfizer, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, according to the Pew Prescription Project.

The few reps who have registered have filed little or nothing in the way of expenses, said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project, in an interview with the Miami Herald. That makes little sense, given that the pharmas spend $20 billion and $57 billion a year on marketing.

One Stryker rep who did report in, meanwhile, said that he'd spent almost $60,000 in one year, including $38,960 for entertainment. I'll bet that if the other lobbyists--er, sales reps--all reported in, it will come out that many spent even more.

To learn more about this situation:
- read this Miami Herald article

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