Massachusets Healthcare Industry Transparency Bill Becomes Law

September 1, 2008

2 Min Read
Massachusets Healthcare Industry Transparency Bill Becomes Law

BUSINESS NEWS

Despite vigorous objections from the medtech, pharmaceutical, and life sciences industries, in August Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D–MA) signed into law the Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency, and Efficiency in the Delivery of Quality Health Care. A major provision of the law requires the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to establish a pharmaceutical and medical device marketing code of conduct, and develop and impose compliance and reporting requirements on pharmaceutical and medical device companies that have employees involved in marketing or selling prescription drugs or medical devices in the state.

Patrick

While companies are concerned about the costs and administrative burdens involved in compliance, they take particular issue with the public disclosure aspects of the law. Industry representatives believe this requirement threatens the integrity and security of proprietary information belonging to companies pursuing research and product development initiatives with partner firms, doctors, hospitals, or other organizations. In contrast to FDA disclosure laws and the Physician Payments Sunshine Act pending in Congress, the Massachusetts law requires public disclosure of any collaborative relationship or industry partnering soon after such actions are first initiated—risking exposure of product development plans to competitive firms.

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2009, and will be enforced by the Massachusetts attorney general. It provides for fines of up to $5000 for each transaction, occurrence, or event that violates the law.

In signing the bill into law, Governor Patrick said, it will "help ensure healthcare providers make choices about prescription drugs and medical devices for their patients based on therapeutic benefits and cost-effectiveness. I am confident the Department of Public Health, pursuant to its regulatory authority, will safeguard the confidentiality of companies' trade secrets and proprietary information and protect against roadblocks to medical research or the education of healthcare providers."

Sommer

The Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council (MassMedic; Boston) was an early critic of the legislation and aggressively pushed back on the bill as it was working its way through the state legislature. But like other industry leaders, MassMedic president Thomas J. Sommer is now taking Governor Patrick at his word that all stakeholders will have access to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as it develops the final provisions of its code of conduct.

The complete text of the Act to Promote Cost Containment, Transparency, and Efficiency in the Delivery of Quality Health Care (MA Senate, no. 2863), which Governor Patrick signed into law in August, is available via www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senate/185/st02/st02863.htm.

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