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    Penalizing doctors for pharma ties is a misguided overreach of power

    Sometimes when trying to fix one problem, you end up creating many, many more.

    Such is the case in one state that could set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. As of January 16, prescribing physicians in New Jersey can accept no more than $10,000 annually from pharmaceutical companies and can accept a meal valued only at $15 or less. It is the boldest attempt by state legislators to crack down on the relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry to avoid what is perceived as improper prescribing practices in return for payment or other perks.

    [The regulation also bans gifts of pens, note pads, clipboards, mugs and other items with a pharma company logo that haven’t been distributed for more than a decade, but that’s not the most misguided part of this issue.]

    The action makes the Garden State the first in the nation to strictly handcuff physician income and penalize doctors—but not pharma—for what it feels are inappropriate ties. Violation of the rule is also reported to the state’s licensure boards, which can impose disciplinary action or possibly a fine. It’s a dangerous precedent to set for other state legislatures.

    But here’s where New Jersey’s intent gets as congested as its highways. When announced late last year, then-Governor Chris Christie and former Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the goal of the rule was to address the state’s opioid crisis. In a press conference announcing the rule, Porrino said it prohibits doctors from forming “unsavory financial relationships” with opioid manufacturers.


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