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Keep patient health first with the MA Gift Ban Law!

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Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses 

State House Room 26 
Boston, MA 02133 

June 15, 2011 
RE: Testimony on Senate Bill 1849 
Dear Chairman DiDomenico and Chairwoman Forry, 

As local medical students, members of the American Medical School Association (AMSA) and future physicians, we are writing today in opposition to Senate Bill 1849. This bill would weaken the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban instituted in 2008 as part of the health care cost containment legislation. 

The current law prevents the pharmaceutical and medical device industry sales reps from wining and dining doctors at high-end restaurants or giving gifts such as box seats at Fenway Park or other promotional gifts. Gifts, both small and big, create reciprocal behaviors in the physicians and create a conflict of interest, which is best kept out of the practice of medicine. The Gift Ban does not outlaw all contact between sales representatives and physicians, but rather limits it to constructive medical research and interactions. 

Senate Bill 1849 would weaken the current law to once again allow the industry to treat doctors to meals in restaurants outside of hospitals. Prior to 2008, expensive lunches and dinners were common, which is why the law now limits meals to those provided during educational sessions within hospital settings. 

This ban is important because research has consistently demonstrated that industry gifts create reciprocal feelings in physicians, which in turn increases their likelihood to prescribe the gift-giver’s products. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 60% of medical residents surveyed thought that “promotions don’t influence my practice” while only 16% believed the same about other physicians. 

The pharmaceutical industry spends a staggering $30 billion annually on marketing with $6 billion targeted specifically at physicians. As we become full-fledged doctors, it is important to us that our patients come first, and it is clearer for everyone involved when there is no unnecessary promotions from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. Medical treatment should be influenced by science and medical evidence, not by the marketing of the industry. 

We urge you to unfavorably report on Senate Bill 1849.



American Medical Students Association- Boston area chapters

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