Minnesota still icy for marketing research

Paying Minnesota physicians to participate in marketing surveys is no longer considered illegal. But a year after the state's Board of Pharmacy clarified this, local agencies have yet to see a major uptick in business.
“We've seen a little bit [of business] starting to come back,” said Denice Duncan-Foldery, president of Minneapolis Fieldwork, which tests prototypes of pharma products and medical devices in its facility. “Slowly but surely it's coming back; not as quickly as I would like.”
Duncan-Foldery said she still gets inquiries on whether it's okay to do market research in the state. That's despite a clarification issued by the state pharmacy board's executive director Cody Wiberg in February 2010 saying that, while a 1993 statute outlawed gifts to physicians over $50, it was never the intention of the board to prohibit payments to doctors in connection with survey work.
But industry interpreted it to mean exactly that, and it's been hard to erase a perception that has held for more than a decade.
“I've only bid on two projects this year that have had anything to do with physicians, and that used to be a good 20% of our business, so it definitely did hurt us,” said Rosemary Sundin, president of Minneapolis-based Orman Guidance Research
“The speed at which manufacturers return to a place like Minnesota depends on the speed at which their legal departments decide the coast is clear,” said Bill Little, government affairs committee chair for the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group, one of the groups that lobbied for the clarification.
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