Vermont AG: Spending by medical products companies continues to rise
Last week, the Attorney General’s Office released a report with details about the money and free samples medical product companies gave to Vermont’s health care community last year. In 2011, 181 pharmaceutical, medical device, and biologic manufacturers reported having made more than $7.5 million in expenditures to 879 Vermont doctors, hospitals, universities and others; 96 manufacturers reported having distributed nearly 106,000 samples to 1,796 recipients. The dollar figure represents an overall spending increase of about 33% from the $5.6 million reported in Fiscal Year 2011. In particular, the amount spent on pharmaceutical marketing (approximately $3 million) is about 37% higher than the $2.2 million reported in FY11.
“As Vermont moves toward a publicly funded single-payer health care system, understanding the extent to which rising manufacturer spending is a barrier to health care cost containment takes on an enhanced importance,” said Attorney General William H Sorrell.
Vermont’s Prescribed Products Gift Ban and Disclosure law bans most gifts to Vermont health care providers and requires manufacturers of prescribed products - including pharmaceuticals, biological products and medical devices - to disclose expenditures deemed appropriate by the legislature. The report released last week is based on disclosures for the calendar year 2011. This is the first year for which the law required manufacturers to disclose the distribution of free samples and of vouchers and co-pay cards that enable an individual to receive a prescription product for free or at a discount.