House votes to repeal law aimed at lowering health care costs

Media Contacts

Statement of Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG Legislative Director


By a vote of 128-22 on April 27, 2011, the House sided with the Rx drug industry as they voted to repeal the Rx Gift Ban, a critical consumer protection law aimed at driving downing spiraling health care costs.

For years, Big Pharma had used inappropriate, direct-to-physician marketing tactics that led to skyrocketing prescription drug costs and compromised care, up until 2008, when the legislature passed the Rx Gift Ban. The ban prohibited gifts and or payments to physicians from drug and medical device companies greater than fifty dollars, including meals and entertainment.

Direct-to-physician industry marketing promotes the prescribing of expensive drugs in place of equally safe, effective, and lower-cost drugs, as well as the prescribing of newer brand name drugs that doctors know the least about. The excessive marketing of Vioxx, for example, led to the prescribing of a new drug that ended up causing unforeseen heart problems that killed 40,000 people.

The amendment to repeal the Rx Gift Ban was tacked on to the FY2012 state budget as an unrelated outside section, bypassing the traditional legislative process, and never getting a public hearing. The next step will be in the Senate where they will take up the budget in May.

We hope the Senate will prevent the repeal of this important tool to drive down health care costs.

To see how your representative voted, click here.