New York governor wants gift ban

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New York Gov. David Paterson is proposing legislation that would impose a ban on gifts to doctors and require physicians making presentations at CME events to disclose any financial relationships with drug companies.

The still-to-be-unveiled legislation would ban gifts and payments from drug companies to physicians and other prescribers in excess of $50 per year, Paterson's office said in a May 15 news release. Violators would be fined. The gift ban exempts samples, discounts and “reasonable payments to physicians and other prescribers that are made in connection with bona fide research or educational activities,” which would have to be disclosed by both manufacturer and prescriber to the state Department of Health. The bill would also require pharmacy benefit managers to disclose information to health plans, doctors and payments.

“I believe that the vast majority of doctors and other prescribers work very hard to make appropriate decisions in the interest of serving their patients, but studies show that gifts can have an influence – perhaps even unconsciously – on prescribing decisions,” Paterson said in a statement. “This legislation will allow practitioners to exercise their clinical judgment and make prescribing decisions free of this influence.”

The bill, which drew praise from consumer groups including Consumers Union, Citizen Action of New York and AARP, could mirror the stringent gift ban that passed the Massachusetts Senate last month. That bill would levy fines of “not more than $5,000” per violation. Connecticut's attorney general has urged that that state adopt similar legislation.
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