Vt. shines brighter light on drug industry influence

Scott Hensley

About Scott Hensley

Scott Hensley runs NPR's online health channel, Shots. Previously he was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog and covered the drug industry and the Human Genome Project for the Journal. Hensley serves on AHCJ's board of directors. You can follow him at @ScottHensley.

Vermont is about to toughen its already stringent rules on the relationships between doctors and drugmakers.

vermontA law expected to take effect in July would bar almost all gifts to doctors, nurses and other health professionals, and would even eliminate free meals, a mainstay of medical offices.

An existing disclosure law lets companies keep some specifics about gifts and payment cloaked as trade secrets. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell praised provisions in the new law that would let the state name the names of specific doctors and dollar amounts involved in deals.

The Vermont Medical Society, representing 65 percent of state doctors, supported the legislation, even though it also will require public disclosure of payments to individual physicians by drug and medical device companies, The New York Times reports.

An existing Vermont law has already made public the large sums of money — almost $3 million in fiscal year 2008 — spent by drug companies on marketing through doctors in the state. You can find the details here.

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