Minnesota Law Limits Pharmaceutical Company Gifts To Physicians

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A Minnesota law that limits gifts from pharmaceutical companies could lead to similar laws in other states, the New York Timesreports. Under the law, Minnesota since 2005 has limited gifts frompharmaceutical companies to physicians to a value of $50 annually, andthe "effect on drug makers has been profound," the Timesreports. In the year after the limit took effect, the number of visitsby pharmaceutical company sales representatives reported by primarycare physicians in Minnesota decreased at about twice the rate reportedby physicians nationwide, according to ImpactRx.

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No other states have implemented similar limits, but New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram (D) in September announcedthe formation of a task force that will examine proposals to limitgifts from pharmaceutical companies to physicians and said she plans toexamine the Minnesota limit. According to the Times, the"interest in legislation to register or limit the food, gifts and moneythat drug and device makers lavish on doctors stems from growingconcerns that these benefits lead doctors to prescribe more, and moreexpensive, drugs and devices, raising the costs of health care andchanging care to patients."

Milgram said, "When you see adoctor, you should have confidence that the advice you get is based onwhat's best for you and not on some financial incentives or gifts thatthe doctor is getting." However, Leslie Pott, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca,said, "We believe it is important that physicians have access to thelatest information on our drugs," and, "given a physician's demandingclinical schedule, the most efficient time for doctors and medicalstaff to meet with representatives is often during lunch hour" (Harris,New York Times, 10/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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