Pharma paid Vermont providers $2.6M in FY09drop from prior year

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In the twelve months before July 1, 2009, 85 pharmaceutical manufacturers paid about $2.6 million to Vermont doctors, hospitals, universities and others for the purpose of marketing their drugs. This was a drop from nearly $3 million the previous fiscal year.

"This amount includes over $800,000 in gifts of food, which are now outlawed in Vermont," said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. "Starting next year the public will be able to see who is getting what from the manufacturers."

In 2009, Vermont legislators banned most gifts to healthcare providers by manufacturers of prescribed products. The new law requires manufacturers of medical devices and biological products to report their marketing expenditures along with the pharmaceutical companies which have been reporting those expenditures for years. The legislation also eliminated the "trade secrets" protection for manufacturers by which companies could prevent release to the public of the details of expenditures such as the amount given to any particular recipient.

Starting next year, the public will be able to look up the name of a doctor or a drug or device and find out how many dollars from manufacturers were associated with each.

Though most gifts have been banned, expenditures that the legislature deems to be appropriate commencing July 1 will include speaking fees; expenditures for research projects, clinical trials or specialized training for medical devices; donations of medical device demonstration units and other educational materials; and free samples of medical devices. That data will not be available through the federal system until Sept. 30, 2013.

The report does not include the costs of advertising on TV, radio or print media, or the value of free samples distributed to physicians, as those have not been reported to the Attorney General. Over the last three years, the percentage of the total expenditures by the five manufacturers with the highest expenditures in Vermont have dropped from 56 percent to 52 percent to 47 percent.

The total amount paid to physicians who individually received more than $3,000 has decreased over the last two years by 12 percent, to $1.5 million for 102 physicians from $1.7 million to 104 physicians in the fiscal year of 2008. Of these, physicians who declared a primary specialty of psychiatry again received the greatest amount at nearly $380,000 in the fiscal year of 2009. Physicians in specialties of internal medicine, neurology, family practice and ionizing radiation privileges, as a group, received over $100,000 in total expenditures. The total paid to physician assistants, RNs and APRNs grew from approximately $100,000 to $288,000 over the last two years of reporting.

A copy of the report is available at the Attorney General's website at: www.atg.state.vt.us under "prescribed products." The publically available data upon which it is based will be available after April 15.