NY Governor: Let's ban pharma gifts

Yet another state is joining the gift-ban lineup. New York's governor is pushing for legislation that would bar sales reps from offering free meals, brand-name tchotchkes, et al, to doctors. The idea being to keep reps from using such inducements to persuade docs to use specific drugs.

According to the Associated Press, Gov. David Paterson is backing the proposal with promises that it would end up improving patient care and cut Medicaid costs. "[M]ore expensive drugs will not be prescribed for the wrong reasons," he said (as quoted by the AP).

The pharma industry isn't exactly thrilled about the idea. Drugmakers are complaining that Paterson's strictures go beyond the industry's voluntary code of conduct, and that the rules could end up interfering with reps' efforts to educate doctors about the latest in medical care.

As you know, New York would hardly be the first state to adopt rules tougher than PhRMA's conduct code. Massachusetts has banned free gifts to docs, and several other states have either adopted similar rules or are in the process of considering them. And the no-gifts movement gained additional steam last April when the Institute of Medicine came out in favor of eliminating free meals, travel and more.

But will New York's almost perpetually gridlocked legislature enact Paterson-esque rules? We wouldn't want to place bets on it. Stay tuned.

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