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States push for gift reporting

New bills aim to tighten up how much pharma industry pays on incentives to health professionals

Several US states are considering laws that would require pharma firms to report publicly how much their sales representatives give to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists.

One bill currently under debate in Massachusetts would even go so far as to ban all gifts to medical professionals.

ìIf a doctor needs a Caribbean vacation or a mug or a pen, he or she is probably not very successful and needs to be in another business,î said state senator, Mark Montigny, who sponsored the bill.

Four states -Vermont, Minnesota, West Virginia and Maine - and the District of Columbia have laws requiring gift reporting by pharma firms, while California requires that firms declare they are compliant with federal and industry gift guidelines.

Most of the state proposals are aimed at reporting gifts to medical professionals, with some requiring disclosure of anything worth $25 or more. A few have also asked for information about pharma firms' advertising budgets.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the US industry association, said it did not believe such laws are needed.

ìThis is heavily regulated by FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which controls what companies can say to physicians about drugs,î said Marjorie Powell, the organisation's general counsel. ìWe don't think there's a particular need for states to get involved."

2nd September 2008

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