October 13, 2019

October 11, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Opioid Crisis Initiating New State Gift Ban Laws: Maine

The Maine legislature passed with broad bipartisan approval L.D. 911, An Act to Prohibit Certain Gifts to Health Care Practitioners. The legislation prohibits gifts to practitioners who are licensed to prescribe and administer drugs by manufacturers, wholesalers, or agents of manufacturers or wholesalers of prescription drugs.

What’s Excluded?

  • Free samples of prescription drugs for patients

  • Items less than $50 over a calendar year

  • Payments to sponsors of educational programs

  • Honoraria for educational conferences

  • Compensation for research

  • Publications or educational materials

  • Salaries to employees

At the Heart of the Bill is the State’s Opioid Crisis

While similar in substance to what already exists in Massachusetts, Vermont, and other states as a law designed to curtail conflicts of interest in physician prescribing practices, the purported impetus here is the state’s opioid crisis. Representative Scott Hamann, the sponsor for the bill, said that the goal is to ensure doctors do not have conflicts of interest when prescribing drugs, especially opioids. According to Hamann’s testimony before the legislature, “People are dying, and the addiction often starts in the doctor’s offices.” The bill intends to curb any influence on the prescribing of opioids given the perspective that there is a correlation between payments and prescribing behavior. Maine has seen a forty percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the last year, and spending on physicians nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015.

The “gift ban” law is now awaiting the Maine Governor’s signature. It will be interesting to see if other states impacted heavily by heroin and opioid abuse will follow suit with increased surveillance or banning of industry gifts to physicians.

© 2019 Foley & Lardner LLP

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Torrey K. Young, Foley Lardner, Health Care Attorney, Regulatory Compliance Lawyer
Senior Counsel

Torrey K. Young is a health care lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. She focuses on health care regulatory compliance and transactional matters. Ms. Young has significant experience conducting internal investigations, responding to government investigations, advising providers regarding compliance concerns, and assisting with managed care and clinical integration issues. She is a member of the firm’s Health Care Industry Team and the Government Enforcement, Compliance & White Collar Defense Practice.

617-502-3294