House Votes For Wining And Dining Of Docs — What's Your Reaction?

The lead news from the Massachusetts House of Representatives today is last night's vote to limit municipal unions' bargaining rights on health insurance. But this should not get lost in the shuffle: As The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald report, the House also voted to repeal the state's ban on gifts to doctors from drug- and device-makers.

The rationale: the ban hurts the economy. The upshot: Let the wining and dining begin anew!

Backlash has already begun, in advance of the Senate's expected vote on the issue in coming weeks. Our local AARP took quickly to its Internet guns on the issue. In a blog post, it concludes:

“Bottom line: The cost of free lunches and other perks for prescribers should not be footed by consumers who are struggling to afford their medication. AARP will fight to keep the gift ban on the books, and to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs. We urge the Senate to do the right thing, and protect the prescription drug company gift ban.”

And today's Globe story, by excellent newcomer Chelsea Conaboy, concludes:

Gift-giving gives pharmaceutical companies an upper hand, said Eric Campbell, research director at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

If repealing the law gives a little boost to restaurants and other businesses, he said, “does that become more important than ensuring the accuracy and the integrity and the quality of the information that health practitioners receive?’’

Readers, thoughts???

This program aired on April 27, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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