Law may hurt Boston medical convention business

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Liz Kowalczyk of The Boston Globe reports that a new Massachusetts law restricting contact between doctors and pharmaceutical companies is threatening Boston’s medical convention industry, which makes up 40 percent of the city’s total convention traffic and contributes tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.

Kowalczyk reports that the law – which will be implemented within the next two months – allows drug companies to continue sponsoring such conventions, but prevents them from paying doctors to attend or from paying for doctors’ travel and lodging. The law allows representatives from pharmaceutical companies to present talks at such conventions, but requires that they give objective presentations that are more than mere advertisements for their products. Additionally, such presentations will no longer qualify for the continuing education Massachusetts doctors need to keep their licenses, Kowalczyk said.

Two organizations have already canceled their 2015 conventions, Kowalczyk said, and more are considering following suit. According to one of those organizations, the American Society of Gene Therapy, the new regulations will “cripple the content and quality” of their conventions.

In a blogged response to the Globe‘s story, author and journalist Alison Bass observes that the convention cancellations may be intended by major pharmaceutical companies as a threat aimed at the state of Massachusetts and its new regulations.

“What the article neglected to mention was that all three of the medical societies named in the article – The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the American Society of Gene Therapy and the Heart
Rhythm Society
– have received major funding from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry over the years,” Bass said.

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