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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14806

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

McConville C.
Doctor-gift regulations loophole hit
The Boston Herald 2008 Dec 11


Pay for research stays secret

Full text:

Angry health-care activists say Massachusetts’ new disclosure rules for doctors and drug companies don’t go far enough.

The state needs to plug a giant loophole that allows Massachusetts doctors to receive pay for research and work on clinical trials without disclosing it, they said.

“(The proposed rules) need to go further,” Health Care for All policy manager Lisa Kaplan Howe said of draft regulations released yesterday, which are believed to be the toughest in the nation.

If the new rules are approved, Massachusetts physicians will be prohibited from accepting drug companies’ free meals and vacations. They will also be required to report any money drug companies give them to promote products.

But if doctors are paid to provide research or test drugs for the drug maker, they don’t have to disclose those payments.

Tufts University professor Jerome Kassirer, whose book, “On The Take: How Medicine’s Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health,” portrays America’s health-care system as a commercial enterprise, called the glaring exemption “unfortunate.”

“We shouldn’t be hiding any kind of personal relationships between pharmaceutical companies and physicians, because of the possibility that any kind of money that goes to physicians could produce some sort of bias,” he said.

Under the proposed rules, patients won’t know if their doctors are profiting when they recommend certain drugs or treatments.

Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach said the council allowed the research payments to remain private to keep clinical trials in the state.

Forcing highly-competitive drug companies to reveal which doctors they have hired could mean fewer clinical trials in Massachusetts, he said.

Those trials help preserve the state’s reputation as a place for cutting-edge medical research, he said.

The council will hold two public hearings in January and is expected to vote on the new regulations in February.


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