Massachusetts Reverses: Exempts physician incentives

A few weeks ago, we alerted you that Massachusetts passed a reporting requirement on all physician research incentive payments.  Because of diligent work by the Marketing Research Association (MRA) Massachusetts has now clarified that the regulation does not apply to market research.  Here is the text of MRA’s release:

Victory for MRA and the Profession!

Good news for the research profession! MRA, in conjunction with MRA volunteers, obtained explicit confirmation from the regulators in Massachusetts exempting market research incentives from their new public reporting requirements of Massachusetts Marketing Code of Conduct. The Department of Public Health ultimately agreed with our position that incentives to healthcare professionals should not have to be publicly reported.


The text provided in the Frequently Asked Questions posits:

“If a [Pharmaceutical or Medical Device Manufacturing Company] hires a market research company to conduct a double-blind study of health care practitioners, where the health care practitioners are paid an honorarium by the market research company, but the [Pharmaceutical or Medical Device Manufacturing Company] does not know which health care practitioners participated in the study and the health care practitioners who participated does [not] know what pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing company was involved, is the information subject to disclosure?

Answer: No. The regulations seek to create transparency around payments to health care practitioners by [Pharmaceutical or Medical Device Manufacturing Companies] that may influence prescriber behavior. Where the health care practitioner participates in a market research study, but is not paid by the [Pharmaceutical or Medical Device Manufacturing Companies] and is not aware of the PMDMC involved, the payment need not be reported.”

This is an important victory for the whole profession. MRA has been advocating on this since the law’s inception in early 2008. We expanded our efforts with a Call to Action for MRA members and non-members in Massachusetts earlier this year. Coordinated letters and phone calls from MRA member volunteers helped secure a meeting with the Department of Health – and ultimately resulted in an explicit exemption for market research studies with healthcare professionals in Massachusetts.

Savor this victory. There are other state laws and pending legislation impacting all facets of survey, opinion and marketing research that need the profession’s attention and energy, but MRA members can play an important role in advocating for and protecting the research profession.

An individual can make a difference, but as we have seen in Massachusetts, together we can make an impact!

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