In this “Fixes” piece on “The Power of Nursing,” David Bornstein talks about the Nurse Family Partnership (where nurses make home visits to families beginning early in a mother’s pregnancy and continuing until the child is 2) and its great successes in improving health and preventing all kinds of troubles — including criminality later in life for the kiddos. Perhaps the most interesting thing he notes? It doesn’t work if someone who isn’t a nurse makes the same kind of visits.
Vermont has been busy passing a law that restricts gifts to doctors (and nurses and pharmacists and hospitals) from drug and medical device companies, and requires them to report all gifts they receive that ARE still allowed. A few other states have laws to this effect, but this one seems to be the toughest.
Lawyer says: bravo Vermont! One of the best ways to work on big problems is to expose them to the sunlight — if this business has to be conducted out in the open, it will have to be conducted more cleanly.
The New York Times reports that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has a code that companies can voluntarily sign that prohibits gifts that aren’t educational and places some restriction on meals. Apparently PhRMA objects to Vermont’s law because… it’s redundant? And will waste doctors’ and companies’ time?
Well, PhRMA, I’m glad you have a code. That’s a good step. But come on!The code limits some types of gifts, and the law limits others. It also does something the code does not: requires reporting of things that continue to be allowed. Reporting requirements are, if you ask me, the best way to fix this problem. It encourages both good behavior on the part of doctors and pharma companies, AND it can create public investment in and awareness of the process – very important where healthcare is concerned. In addition, unlike the code, the law applies to everyone in the state – not all pharama companies have signed the code.
Side note: previous regulations (and those that still stand in many places) allow large gifts to slip through, protected as trade secrets. Last time I checked, shady business practices (i.e. bribery) were not legitimate trade secrets that would allow other companies access to proprietary information about a company’s inventions. Close the loophole!
Patients have a right to unbiased care. Vermont is helping them get that. Way to go, Vermont.