BLOG: Massachusetts to loosen physician marketing restrictions
From international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP comes a timely column that provides views on current regulatory and legislative topics that weigh on the minds of today’s physicians and health care executives.
At its last meeting before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Massachusetts Public Health Council approved final regulations to ease some of the marketing restrictions previously enacted in the Commonwealth’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Code of Conduct. Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers will now be allowed to provide “modest meals and refreshments” in connection with non-CME presentations for educating and informing health care practitioners about the “benefits, risks and appropriate uses of prescription drugs or medical devices.”
The regulations define “modest meals and refreshments” as “food and/or drinks provided . . . to a health care practitioner that, as judged by local standards, are similar to what a health care practitioner might purchase when dining at his or her own expense,” but do not prohibit manufacturers from providing alcoholic “refreshments.”
Not surprisingly, the regulations generated a range of responses within the health care industry. Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, joined by representatives from the restaurant industry, apparently lobbied in favor of the final regulations. However, the advocacy group Heath Care for All, along with several legislators, voiced concerns about the impact on consumers.
The final regulations and the Public Health Council’s recommendations are available here through the agency’s website.
Local media coverage of these changes is available through the Boston Globe’s website.
Ted Lotchin, JD, MPH, can be reached at Arnold & Porter LLP, 555 12th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004-1206; 202-942-5250; email: Ted.Lotchin@aporter.com