TESTIMONY OF THE MAINE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
NEITHER FOR NOR AGAINST
L.D. 911, AN ACT TO PROHIBIT CERTAIN GIFTS TO HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONERS
Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development
Room 208, Cross State Office Building
Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
Good afternoon Senator Volk, Representative Fecteau, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development. I am Gordon Smith of East Winthrop, Maine and I am testifying today on behalf of the Maine Medical Association which I serve as Executive Vice President.
The MMA is a professional organization representing more than 4000 physicians, residents, and medical students in Maine whose mission is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine, and promote the health of all Maine citizens.
The MMA is testifying “neither for nor against” L.D. 911 because the language is consistent with current practices and with the relevant provision in the Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association. Opinion 9.6.2 of the Code, entitled Gifts to Physicians from Industry, recognizes that gifts to physicians from industry carry the risk of subtly influencing - or being perceived to bias - professional judgment in the care of patients. I have attached a copy of the provision to my testimony.
Given that the practices prohibited in the proposed legislation are already considered unethical and the health care practitioner licensing boards have authority to enforce the provisions of codes of ethics as professional standards of practice, the bill is unnecessary. On the other hand, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics applies to physicians and while other health professionals who prescribe or dispense medication may have similar codes and standards of practice, we have not done an exhaustive search of these codes.
L.D. 911 amends the Maine Pharmacy Act, which regulates the conduct of pharmacists primarily but does have some impact on manufacturers and wholesalers of drugs. But, the drug companies and their sales forces are largely regulated by federal law. The federal "sunshine" act, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, does require reporting and disclosure of payments to prescribers by manufacturers or their agents. But, disclosure and reporting is one issue, and the prohibition of such payments and gifts is another. I am not certain that the Maine Pharmacy Act is the best location of these prohibitions if you elect to move this bill forward.
In closing, the Maine Medical Association sees some benefit in the bill, but also recognizes that it needs to be carefully considered in conjunction with the federal law and provisions of professional ethics. We will plan to be at your work session and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you have today.