Massachusetts nukes doc-gift ban

It looks as if PhRMA's new marketing code has staved off legislative action in at least one state. Massachusetts House members, who have been debating an outright ban on industry gifts to doctors, stripped that provision from a bill making its way toward passage. The bill also lost its doctor-payment disclosure requirements, too. Instead, the measure will require drugmakers to adopt--drum roll, please--a code of conduct.

As you know, PhRMA proposed a new code last week that would keep reps from taking doctors out to restaurants and handing out pens, mugs, mouse pads, and the like in their offices. Other pharma execs can entertain physicians, though, and reps can bring in food when there's an educational program at a doctor's office or hospital.

State senators already had approved a version of the bill--a big effort to rein in healthcare costs, of which these marketing rules are just a part--that included the gift ban. But House members said they were "concerned that the Senate language would deny (doctors and researchers) the kind of information they need," according to the Boston Globe. Senators scoffed, however; one told the Globe, "If you are serious about taking on cost control, you have to take on the...sacred cows of the pharmaceutical industry."

- see the Globe story
- check out the Wall Street Journal Health Blog's take