Act Now - Physician Payments Sunshine Act Could Pass

Thursday June 11, 2009 | Filed under: Education, Guest Blog

My father always told me to be prepared to fight for what I believe in and I've subscribed to that theory throughout my life.

And while there are many causes and challenges to commit to, there's one facing our industry that needs action from nearly every distributor and supplier:  the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009. 

This act would require drug companies and medical device manufacturers to disclose the value of payments or gifts of ANY amount to physicians, including all advertising specialties.

While there is some consideration the House might provide an exemption for items under $5, this amount is still too low, and the Senate bill still does not exempt any promotional products of any value.  So, either way, we have to push to increase the exemption to $25, in order to save thousands of industy jobs.

Any drug or medical device company will be prevented from handing out promotional items at trade shows or in the office, because no one will want to take the time or painstaking effort to report the value of every single promotional item given (like pens, clipboards and mugs.) 

This bill has good intentions, however, it also has far reaching ramifications.  Since I'm obviously against bribing my doctor to give me medicine, I support the spirit of this bill.  But, the way it's written will damage pharmaceutical promotional products sales for our industry, which will further impact the overall economy. 

In addition to the revenue lost by distributors who sell to these companies, suppliers will obviously lose revenue and overall declining sales could lead to even more industry job cuts. 

Doctors are constantly bombarded with messages and new information.  Frankly, I want my doctor to be able to keep a pen or portfolio that will remind him of a drug or device that may make a difference to my health.

I hope you recognize how significant this issue is to you and to the health of our overall industry - whether or not you sell promo products to the pharmaceutical market.

So what can you do?   Small things done by 100,000 of us can go a very long way and I've put together a few easy links for you to contact your representative.  Take a quick moment to send them your thoughts, using these links and the draft of my letter below, and be sure to pass this information to your sales and support staff. 

Please comment on this blog to indicate that you've sent a letter to your representative.  Together, we can make a difference.

- Dale Denham is senior vice president at ASI.  Email him here.

To email your Senator:

1.  Click here and select the link after each of your Senators to contact them using the web form. 

2.  Insert your information and send your version of the letter below.

Draft of Letter:

Dear Senator [Last Name]:

I oppose S.301, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and ask that you strongly consider the potentially devastating effects on those of us in your constituency.   While the intentions of the bill are commendable, there are significant negative ramifications that may not be clear to the drafters of the bill.

I am not a manufacturer of drugs or medical devices, but I am in the promotional products industry and this bill will drive out hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and result in a significant loss of jobs.

Specifically, the proposed law does not establish a minimum dollar amount related to the "transfer of value," which will cause manufacturers to stop providing promotional products.  Promotional products are very cost effective advertising items, not a "free trip" or other "gift" that has no advertising or educational value.

If you support this bill, I strongly urge you to allow tangible forms of advertising and education to be exempt from the bill, or at a minimum exclude those under a reasonable dollar value. 

With over 30,000 promotional products businesses across the United States, many of them entrepreneurial small- and medium-sized businesses that now help drive most of the business growth in this country, and the thousands of jobs potentially at stake in the 19 billion dollar industry if this act passes, it is a very important issue.

Thank you for your time.


[Your Name]