The Vermont State Legislature passed a more restrictive pharmaceutical marketing law, banning gifts to physicians from industry and tightening disclosure requirements. At press time, Gov. Jim Douglas was expected to sign the bill into law by the end of June.

In its previous form, the law allowed gifts valued under $25, but the revamped bill (s-48) prohibits all gifts to healthcare professionals except “allowable expenditures,” which must be disclosed. Commercial support for CME is exempt from the ban. Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to offer financial support to accredited CME sponsors for educational conferences, as defined in the law, and to pay for faculty honoraria and travel expenses.

Gifts that would fall under the ban include payments, food, entertainment, travel, subscriptions, or anything else of value provided to a healthcare professional.

Further, companies must disclose to the state attorney general's office annually all allowable expenditures — including drug samples — made to healthcare professionals.

The Vermont legislation offers more transparency than state laws in Massachusetts and in Minnesota, as well as pending legislation in Congress (the Physician Payments Sunshine Act), according to a press release from the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, a nonprofit organization of state legislators from across the country.