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Vermont Sends Sweeping Gift Ban Bill To Governor
Volume 609
May 14, 2009

Echoing laws recently passed by Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota, the Vermont Senate and House has agreed to legislation that bans manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices from giving gifts to doctors. The bill, S.48, mandates full disclosure of allowable gifts to physicians, health care organizations, non-profit groups and state-funded academic institutions, and demands a higher level of transparency in the state's health care system.

"The bill allows consumers going to their physician to know whether their doctor is taking money from the pharmaceutical companies," said Peter Shumlin, the Democratic sponsor of the bill in Vermont. Republican Senator Kevin Rutland said about the passage of the bill: "Vermont has taken another step to take away the undue influence on prescribing patterns and to provide our citizens with the most cost-effective and efficacious medicines."

However, the bill also demands that health care companies disclose gifts to doctors of any amount – including items like pens, notepads and mugs. The law goes even further than the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009, which is currently being debated in the United States Senate Finance Committee, in that doctors in Vermont also need to declare the gifts they receive. In the federal law, pharmaceutical and medical device companies would be forced to declare gifts of any value that they provide to doctors.

Vermont's gift ban law is now headed to Governor Jim Douglas, who is expected to sign it shortly.

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