Maybe There Is Such a Thing As a Free Lunch – Vermont Considers Allowing Drug and Device Makers to Again Provide In-Office Meals to Healthcare Professionals

February 20, 2014

By James C. Shehan

Vermont law has banned manufacturers of prescription drug, device, and biologics products from providing most gifts to physicians and other healthcare professionals since 2009 and has required these manufacturers to report permitted gifts and payments to Vermont HCPs since 2002 (summarized in our previous post here).

On February 4, 2014, Representative Tom Burditt introduced a bill (HB 836) that would exempt from the ban meals and other food given to a healthcare professional and his or her employees provided that the meals are consumed in the health care professional’s office.  The bill places no limits on the value of the food provided or the number of people who consume it.  If passed, HB 836 would become effective on July 1, 2014.  

The Vermont law is in many ways the most stringent state drug and device marketing law in the country.  It also has been enforced, with the Vermont Attorney General announcing settlements with 25 manufacturers in September 2013 and three more since then (see here). 

Prospects for the bill are not yet clear.  A similar bill was introduced into the Vermont Senate last year and remains in committee.  But as we previously reported here, legislation to loosen the gift ban restrictions has passed previously, allowing Vermont HCPs to partake of coffee, snacks and other refreshments provided at booths at conferences and seminars.