On April 19, 2008, the Massachusetts state Senate unanimously approved a first-in-the-nation law banning all gifts to physicians from pharmaceutical companies. Several other states have put limits on gifts as well.

In March, 2008, the Physician Sunshine Act was introduced in the Senate. This is a companion act to a similar House bill introduced in 2007. The bills would require pharmaceutical companies to publicly report on their web sites all grants, meals and payments over $25 invlaue made to physicians.

Several pharma marketing experts and PhRMA have suggested that this and similar bills are redundant, would expose proprietary information, and are too onerous.

This article reviews some aspects of these “sunshine” laws and focuses on a recent CALPIRG analysis of drug company gifts to physicians. Topics covered include:

  • Are these laws overly onerous?
  • Do state sunshine laws achieve their stated goals?
  • How well do pharmaceutical companies comply with the California law that codified the PhRMA code on gifts to physicians?
  • What spending limits have companies adopted in Claifornia and how have these limits changed since the California law went into effect in 2005?

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Issue: Vol. 7, No. 4: April 2008
Word Count: 2517

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