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Drug Marketing Disclosures Show $2.6 Million In Payments To Vermont Prescribers

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3171

April 5, 2010

In the twelve months before July 1, 2009, 85 pharmaceutical manufacturers paid $2,599,589 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, the Vermont legislature banned most gifts to health care providers by manufacturers of prescribed products. The new law also required manufacturers of medical devices and biological products (such as vaccines) to report their marketing expenditures along with the pharmaceutical manufacturers who have been reporting those expenditures for years. The legislature 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, 2010 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. The Vermont Medical Society and the Vermont Psychiatric Association supported the 2009 legislation in order to increase transparency and improve patient confidence. The recent federal health care legislation provides for similar disclosures of expenditures to physicians and teaching hospitals. That data will not be available through the federal system until September 30, 2013.

The report issued today is based on reporting for the period July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. It 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 has dropped from 56% to 52% to 47%.

The total dollars paid to physicians who individually received more than $3,000 has decreased over the last two years by 12%, to $1.5 million for 102 physicians from $1.7 million to 104 physicians in FY08. Of these, physicians who declared a primary specialty of psychiatry again received the greatest amount at nearly $380,000 in FY09. 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.

Looking only at the 50 drugs with the greatest expenditures, over 17% of those expenditures, or nearly $350,000, went to market or promote drugs for treating depression. Promotion of drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia, and ADHD, the next highest expenditures, all had between $139,000 and $152,000 in expenditures.

For a copy of the report, check 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.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.