This summer, Massachusetts relaxed the Pharmaceutical Gift Ban. The Legislature passed and Governor signed a law that opened the door for Big Pharma to go back to their old ways of wining and dining doctors, but said that the meals had to be “modest.”
Now, it’s up to the Department of Public Health (DPH) to determine how to enforce and regulate this new law. But instead of limiting permitted meals to those considered modest, DPH has released a temporary regulation defining “modest” as “similar to what a health care practitioner might purchase when dining at his or her own expense.”
So, according to DPH, pharmaceutical companies can now woo our doctors with meals and alcohol so that doctors prescribe us expensive, brand names drugs. Now, I don’t know about you, but this makes me mad.
Now, it’s up to the Department of Public Health (DPH) to determine how to enforce and regulate this new law. And now it’s up to us–as patients, advocates, and activists–to put in our two cents and urge DPH to change this regulation. Here’s the kicker: we only have until *this Friday* to make our voice heard before DPH’s public hearing.
So naturally, I turn to the fine folks here at Blue Mass Group and ask you: Write your own e-mail DPH and tell them that you don’t want industry profits to come before your health. E-mail Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us with “Code of Conduct” in the subject of your e-mail.
Here’s what you can write to DPH:
- If you are going to allow pharma representatives to take my doctor out for a meal, at least set a clear dollar limit. I don’t want drug companies to buy my doctors lavish multi-course meals and drinks.
- Don’t let drug companies buy my doctors alcoholic drinks. My doctors shouldn’t be drinking while learning about drugs and treatments that affect my health.
- If my doctor is getting taken out to dinner by a drug company, I have the right to know about it. All meals and gifts given to doctors should be reported and public.
When writing to DPH, you must include your full name and address in the body of the email and type “Code of Conduct” in the subject line. And, because this is the public comment period, all emails will be public and posted online.
Again, please e-mail DPH today at Reg.Testimony@state.ma.us and let them know that you don’t want industry profits to come before your health.
It’s really quite simple: pharma shouldn’t be wining and dining our doctors. But since the state already passed a law that says they can provide modest meals, there ought to at least be a dollar limit, a ban on serving alcohol, and the requirement of public reporting on the meals provided. I don’t think that’s a whole lot to ask to protect my health.
And, if you’re able to attend the hearing in person here are the details:
DPH Hearing on Loosening the Pharma Gift Ban
Friday, October, 19th at 10 a.m.
DPH Public Health Council Room,
2nd Floor, 250 Washington Street, Boston, MA.
If you’re interested in attending and providing oral testimony, please contact Alyssa Vangeli at
email@example.com or 617-275-2922.