California Advances Bill To Limit Drugmaker Payments to Physicians

California State Senate SB 790

On May 18, 2017, the California State Senate approved SB 790 (Health care providers: gifts and benefits), a bill that prohibits manufacturers of prescribed products from offering or providing gifts to healthcare providers. The bill defines a gift as “anything of value provided for free to a healthcare provider, or a payment, food, entertainment, travel, subscription, advance, service, or anything else of value provided to a healthcare provider, unless it is a specified allowable expenditure or the healthcare provider reimburses the cost at fair market value.”

Under the proposed legislation, manufacturers can continue to provide funding for conferences and scientific symposia, and pay compensation to clinical trial investigators. But when it comes to hosting dinner events, manufacturer spending for healthcare providers must not exceed $250 per person, per year. The bill also restricts spending on travel, entertainment, and speaking and consultation fees.

The bill’s author, Senator McGuire, released a statement following passage in the Senate. “I’ll be the first to say that the vast majority of physicians and medical professionals put the needs of their patients first. There’s a reason why doctors answer the call to practice medicine—to help people in their time of need,” he said. “But growing evidence reveals that financial relationships between some physicians and pharmaceutical companies confirm what has been suspected—financial incentives change minds.”

He further noted that California physicians lead the nation in the number of gifts taken (totaling more than $1.4 billion in 2014). “SB 790 will curb financial payments, gifts and incentives to medical professionals and help drive down the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs for millions in California,” said Senator McGuire.
SB-790 will now move on to the California State Assembly for further consideration.

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