Vermont's mandated doc-payment disclosures show drop to $2.6M

Drugmakers appear to be backing away a bit from doc payments in Vermont, and experts are saying that it's because of disclosure requirements passed by the state legislature back in 2002. Is this a taste of what's to come once disclosure goes national as a result of the healthcare reform bill?

Drug companies certainly are spending less on marketing to Vermont doctors and institutions, according to Attorney General William Sorrell. In the 12 months that ended June 30, drugmakers paid almost $2.6 million to Vermont doctors, hospitals, and universities to market their drugs. That's down from nearly $3 million the previous fiscal year. And when you look at the amounts paid to doctors alone, the total has declined by 12 percent over the past two years to $1.5 million.

But is the decline a direct result of the disclosure rules? Some experts say so. But the AG himself won't go that far. "They're going down, and they've been going down for a few years," Sorrell explains (as quoted by Pharmalot). "The question is whether their disclosure obligations are having an impact on that or whether they're just changing their marketing strategies." For its part, PhRMA blames economic woes for the change.

Vermont officials are expecting the numbers to drop significantly for the current fiscal year. That's because the legislature passed a gift ban, outlawing most pharma freebies, including free meals. "This [year's] amount includes over $800,000 in gifts of food, which are now outlawed in Vermont," Sorrell says in a statement. Backing out the food, the overall total would be about $1.8 million. But we'll have to see how the numbers really look at reporting time next year.

- see the AG's press release
- get more from Pharmalot