MA drops planned ban on physician gifts from drugmakers

Massachusetts legislators have stripped several controversial provisions out of pending legislation that would have imposed strict new rules on pharmaceutical company relationships with doctors. The bill had originally banned drug companies from providing gifts and meals to physicians, and also required drug and medical device companies to report payments they made to doctors for consulting and speaking about their products, but these provisions were removed. Legislators have also removed a proposed $5,000 per violation fine from the measure. The new version of the bill only requires drug companies to adopt a marketing code of conduct not unlike the one announced by drugmaker trade group PhRMA, which still allows companies to cater lunches and breakfasts in doctors' offices.

The proposed bill did keep one controversial section, however: It would ban pharmaceutical companies from buying drug prescribing information identifying doctors or patients. Such measures have been fought tooth and nail in other states by the pharmas--and overturned in some cases--so it's hard to imagine they'll let it stand here either. Still, even passing such a measure would be fairly progressive.

To learn more about this measure:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe

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