The Massachusetts State Legislature is considering a bill that would ban gifts from pharmaceutical companies to physicians. If approved, Massachusetts would be the first state to ban gifts outright, according to an article in The Boston Globe.
The proposal would ban doctors and their immediate family members from receiving any gifts from pharmaceutical company representatives. The bill defines gifts as “payment, entertainment, meals, travel, honorarium, subscription, advance, services or anything of value.” Other states place restrictions on gifts but don’t ban them outright. For example, Minnesota says gifts to doctors can’t exceed $50 per physician while Vermont says any gift over $25 must be disclosed. The penalty for breaking the proposed law is a fine of $5,000 or up to two years in prison.
At a hearing last week, the Massachusetts Medical Society voiced concerns over the gift ban, stating the proposal would “have the unintended consequences of limiting support for legitimate continuing medical education programs." The group, which represents Massachusetts physicians, noted that its policy clearly states that "gifts accepted by physicians should be related to a patient benefit or the physician's work and must be modest in nature."