The Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee has endorsed a bill designed to allow doctors who go to conferences to eat meals paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
The committee voted 5-0 in favor of S.45. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
S.45 updates an existing Vermont law that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose gifts they give to doctors and other health care providers.
The bill would drop the law’s provision that doctors who attend conferences and other large events be prohibited from consuming coffee, snacks, sit-down meals or buffets paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
However, doctors would still be prohibited from eating meals at events designed to promote specific drugs or devices, according to Sen. Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden, the lead sponsor of the bill.
Lyons said Vermont doctors who attend conferences right now are faced with a stigma because other practitioners can eat dinners and buffets.
“We had all these docs and other practitioners going to conferences, and there would be a big dinner, and it would be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (that) may not be pushing a specific drug or device …,” Lyons said.
“There would be signs placed outside of the dinner room at the conference that say … ‘Vermont practitioners not welcome,’” she continued. “They couldn’t come in and have the food because it was considered a gift that would influence.”