Massachusetts Finalizes “Modest Meal” Provision

Nov. 30, 2012 – The Massachusetts Public Health Council has approved final amendments to its 2008 Pharmaceutical and Device Manufacturer Code of Conduct, which now allows industry to provide “modest meals” to healthcare professionals for non-continuing medical education, according to an article posted today in Policy and Medicine.

Emergency regulations to amend the state’s gift ban were passed in late September and the Council held a public hearing in October, at which John Kamp, Executive Director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, testified.

Kamp stated on behalf of the Coalition that the “singular goal” of his comments “is to dispel the myth promulgated by some that companysupported education is pure selling and is unfettered by regulation or full company responsibility for the truth, veracity or ‘fair balance’ of the content of the presentations. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

He also noted that companysponsored educational events are fully regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, state consumer protection statutes, state codes (including the Massachusetts code), federal “false claims” and other statutes, the threat of possible plaintiff “failure to warn” law suits, and the selfregulatory guidelines of the three leading industry trade associations. In other words, according to Kamp’s testimony, “the laws of the federal and state governments … and the internal policies of companies are stringent and work to ensure that

these programs are both educational and in accordance with good care.”

On Nov. 21, the Council approved the final amendments, which take effect Dec. 7.