The Massachusetts House of Representatives has voted 128-22 to repeal the Massachusetts Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Code of Conduct. The April 26 vote was the second time in two years the House voted to repeal the 2008 law, which requires pharma and medical-device companies to disclose any financial transactions worth at least $50 with anyone who prescribes, dispenses, or purchases prescription drugs or medical devices in the Commonwealth. They also must disclose to the public all information about payments to prescribers; the first round of data was released in November 2010. The 2010 attempt to eliminate the gift ban legislation did not make it into the final economic development bill passed by the legislature.
Those who support the repeal say the code stifles innovation by limiting physician interactions with drug and device companies and inhibiting the growth of local medical businesses. They also believe it has discouraged medical organizations from holding meetings and conventions in the Bay State. The state’s restaurant industry also claims that the code has hurt its business because it doesn’t allow drug companies to take docs out for meals.
Supporters of the law believe it’s necessary to protect patients by curbing the potential for conflicts of interest. Those in favor of keeping the gift ban also say it hasn’t hurt the restaurant or convention business, pointing to a 9 percent increase in meal taxes collected for fiscal 2011 over 2010 and a proposal to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and build a new adjacent hotel.
The language to repeal the legislation is included in the House’s version of the state’s fiscal 2012 budget. It’s now up to the Senate to decide whether to include the language in its 2012 budget, which is due to be released in May.
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