Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Healthful Effects Of Sunshine

Those canny Vermonters have just shown the nation a perfectly acceptable way to start trimming health care costs. A bill which has passed that state's legislature and which will hopefully be signed by the governor requires full disclosure from drug companies and medical device manufacturers of money they send to doctors as part of their marketing programs.

From the NY Times:

Cracking down on medical industry payments to doctors, the Vermont legislature has passed a law requiring drug and device makers to publicly disclose all money given to physicians and other health care providers, naming names and listing dollar amounts. ...

It 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.
[Emphasis added]

What is especially notable in this story is that the Vermont Medical Society backed the bill. Even doctors are acknowledging the ethical quandary of accepting the kind of money PHARMA and device makers are throwing around.

What is also notable about the bill is that it does not ban the money flow, it just requires disclosure so that patients have access to information that just might help them decide on whether to undergo a particular medical procedure. Knowing that an orthopedic surgeon gets an extra $100,000 a year from the maker of the artificial knee he wants to implant just might give his patient pause, and might even result in a second opinion on the necessity for the surgery and on the efficacy of the device itself.

Nicely done, Vermont. Nicely done.

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Anonymous PeasantParty said...

WOW! You have just planted the seed to push reform through the ground! What if the company saved money that they normally give away to docs and lowered the price of treatment?

Seriously, the lobbying needs to stop at home. "STOP"

6:59 AM  

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