Maryland legislators have introduced HB 818, the Manufacturers of Prescribed Products–Payments to Health Care Professionals–Prohibition. The bill is designed to prohibit “a manufacturer of certain prescribed products from offering or giving a gift to a healthcare professional.” A gift is defined as any payment, food, entertainment, travel, subscription, advance, service, or other item of value given to a healthcare professional that the HCP does not reimburse at fair market value.
Among the items that would be exempt, with limitations in some cases, are samples, payments for conferences or seminars, honoraria and other speaker expenses, reimbursement for technical training, and donated health care products. To be considered exempt under HB 818, educational, scientific, and policy conferences and seminars must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for CME or another bona fide accreditor, offer CME credit, and have multiple presenters on scientific research or be authorized by the sponsoring organization to recommend or make policy. A prescribed product manufacturer can sponsor this type of program as long as it does not make payments directly to HCPs, the host organization uses the payment only for true educational purposes, and all program content is objective, not controlled by the manufacturer, and does not promote any specific products. Honoraria andexpenses can be covered as long as the explicitly states the faculty must restrict materials to educational, scientific, or medical policy and issues, not marketing, and the HCP, not the manufacturer, controls the content.
At a Maryland House of Delegates meeting on HB 818 held March 3, bill co-sponsor Nicholaus Kipke (R-Anne Arundel County) argued that the increase in prescribed drug use in the state over the past decade calls for a strong firewall between pharma and HCPs. Others who spoke in support of the bill asked that it be amended so that it would not interfere with appropriate HCP-industry interactions, including education. Arguments against the bill included concerns that it would interfere with legitimate research and education and would stifle innovation that can arise from industry-HCP interaction.