Doc-gift bans take effect in New England

Today's D-Day in Massachusetts and Vermont--Doctor-gift-law Day. In both states, new legislation takes effect that totally overhauls the rules governing everything from logo notepads to expensive junkets and everything in between. Even free meals will be verboten in Vermont. And though these two states now have the most restrictive pharma-doctor rules in the country, other states are considering similar bans.

As you know, the debate over financial relationships between drugmakers and doctors has really heated up over the last year or so. Congress has been investigating ties among pharma, doctors and academic researchers; lawmakers at the federal and state levels are mulling disclosure rules; medical schools and their teaching hospitals have been overhauling policies on gifts, free samples, speaking fees and consulting, and more. "There is a genuine recognition within the medical profession that the financial entanglements with industry have become problematic," said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project, told the Wall Street Journal

Some, however, think the pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction. As the WSJ points out, some prominent physicians have banded together to oppose the restrictions, saying that financial relationships between doctors and industry aren't bad in and of themselves. What do you think? The WSJ Health Blog is running a "question of the day" about the gift bans, so go on over and have your say. While you're at it, let us know, too.

- read the WSJ story
- check out the Health Blog post