Just in time to file it away for the next full session comes news of a great law passed by the Vermont legislature. Their new law, taking effect this summer, is “requiring drug and device makers to publicly disclose all money given to physicians and other health care providers, naming names and listing dollar amounts.” What a great step for consumers. Imagine it, you could find out why your doctor is so keen on that pacemaker that your brother-in-law’s doctor despises. You could figure out why your kid’s psychiatrist seems to be pushing Strattera over Ritalin. It would be a revolution.
[The law] will require public disclosure of all payments by companies to any health care provider with authority to write prescriptions for drugs, medical devices and biologics, drugs that are typically administered by injection or infusion.
The law is also the first to ban all free meals, long a favorite gift in marketing to doctors. The law also closes a loophole in previous regulations that had allowed companies to keep specific expenses private by claiming them as trade secrets.
The required disclosures, though, do not include payments for clinical research on products under review by the Food and Drug Administration.”
Thanks to bloggers and reporters, we know that a lot of our extraneous dollars are going toward enriching non-profit insurance company CEOs and toward anti-single payer propaganda, but a law like this would give North Carolinians more information about the insurance/pharmaceutical complex. Could that possibly be a bad thing?
‘If the drug industry gives $3 million on average for three years now to physicians in a small state like Vermont, what is happening in California and New York?’ said Ken Libertoff, director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health, an advocacy group that supported the law. …
Of the $2.9 million spent in Vermont, for example, about $1.8 million went to only 100 health care providers. That meant only about 4 percent of doctors received 60 percent of the payments, the report said.”
If there’s that much money going to health care providers in Vermont, North Carolina, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, is probably receiving a lot more. We’re constantly being reminded that we’re consumers of health care now, not patients. Well, knowledge is power in the marketplace, and we need protection like this. For what it’s worth, the Vermont Medical Society supported the bill, so fear not for your fave physician. I’d probably worry more about someone who opposed transparency. I hope we get to find out who those
doctors providers are if and when NC considers such a law.