The federal government is warning drugmakers that the practice of giving gifts to doctors in exchange for a preference for a particular prescription drug could violate federal fraud and abuse laws, reports The New York Times. The rule also applies to pharmacists and others in a position to recommend specific drugs.
The warning comes from Janet Rehnquist, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. While the agency doesn’t have the ability to enforce the rule, the new standard is seen as a warning that drugmakers that engage in such conduct are more likely to be investigated and prosecuted by legal authorities, the newspaper reports.
The practice of drug companies rewarding health care providers has gone on for years, the Times says. A common practice is to reward pharmacy benefit managers for adding drugs to lists of recommended medications, known as formularies. And treating doctors to Broadway shows, trips and expensive meals in exchange for switching patients to a specific drug also has been commonplace, adds the newspaper.