Influential consumer group, Public Citizen, has filed suit against Vermont’s attorney general in a bid to gain access to information gathered under the state’s pharmaceutical marketing disclosure law, which was enacted three years ago.
The law, which Public Citizen says was designed to shed light on the practice of pharmaceutical companies giving promotional gifts and payments to physicians, calls for drug companies to report the value, nature and purpose of any gift, fee, or any other economic benefit over $25 dollars, given to prescribers. However, the information is not publicly accessible, and the consumer group says further analysis “could inform the ongoing debate about the propriety of doctors accepting such gifts.”
Public Citizen first requested access to this information in December last year, and was provided with complete records from many pharmaceutical companies. However, the attorney general refused to release material designated “trade secret” – which Public Citizen says came “disproportionately from many of the largest drug companies, reducing the usefulness of any analysis of the data.” An appeal was filed in June, but was denied by the attorney general – triggering the lawsuit. “The role of the attorney general is to provide citizens with information they are entitled to under the public records law, not to rubber stamp the determination of drug companies that their information should not be released,” said Adina Rosenbaum.