The Maine Board of Pharmacy finalized its gift ban rule last month, providing guidance for manufacturers and wholesalers over a year after initial regulations were proposed. The final rule, effective June 6, provides guidance on minimal value in relation to modest meals and refreshments, reasonable honoraria and research. The Board clarified that the gift ban does not apply to pharmacists but rather those practitioners who are “licensed, registered or otherwise authorized in the appropriate jurisdiction to prescribe and administer drugs in the course of professional practice.”
Although no specific threshold was provided, the Board defined minimal value for modest meals and refreshments as “the cost of which is similar to that which a practitioner would pay when dining at his or her own expense as judged by local standards where the event is held.”
The cap for reasonable honoraria was increased to $500 annually. Honoraria, according to the Board is defined as “a gift or gratuity in recognition of the practitioner’s presentation and does not include fee for service paid to the practitioner for the presentation, travel or lodging reimbursement, or other expenses incurred.” Speaker fees associated with continuing education programs along with their associated expenses for travel, lodging and meals are not subject to the $500 annual cap. Additionally, the Board recognized that the gift ban law did not specifically exempt research-related payments, but it stated that it did not believe the law prohibits payment to a practitioner for research services rendered and would not be a matter subject to Board action.
Manufacturers should already have policies in place for offering modest meals and refreshments to licensed healthcare professionals (HCPs) and most have already limited, if not prohibited, additional gifts and entertainment to be provided to HCPs. The finalization of the Maine law should not have significant effects on these companies.