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Minnesota Clarifies Stance On Pharma Market Research Payments

Thursday, May 20, 2010  
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Minnesota Clarifies Stance On Pharma Market Research Payments

The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy has confirmed that payments made by research organizations to health care practitioners for their participation in pharmaceutical market research are not subject to reporting requirements. Dr. Cody Wiberg, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, stated that manufacturers DO NOT have any reporting obligations under the following circumstances:
"If they make payments to a market research company; the research is done in a 'blinded' fashion-with the research company selecting the participants and the manufacturer never knowing which practitioners participated; and the market research company sets the rates and pays the practitioners that do participate."

Dr. Wiberg also added, "Ideally, the practitioners who participated would also not know which manufacturer had funded the study. In that scenario, the manufacturer has made no direct payments to the practitioner, the manufacturer does not know who participated and the practitioner does not know from whence the funds came."

Thus, pharmaceutical market research in which Minnesota health care practitioners participate as confidential respondents is not covered by the disclosure requirements for payments made by manufacturers and wholesalers because the practitioner is unidentified to the pharmaceutical company and is compensated directly by the independent research organization. Notably, these are the routine and enforceable requirements of market research under our own industry standards.

In January 2010 the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy amended its explanation of Minnesota law to confirm that payments to health care practitioners who participate in bona fide market research are legal and appropriate. With this further confirmation that market research payments are not subject to reporting, the Board of Pharmacy has removed the final impediment to the re-emergence of pharmaceutical market research in Minnesota. Minnesota represents a significant "voice" that will now be reflected in market and opinion research about health care products and services.

Minnesota's position is consistent with the recently enacted Federal "physician payment sunshine" provisions in the health care reform act. The disclosure requirements for payments or other transfers of value explicitlydoes not include payments made to physicians for their participation in pharmaceutical market research, as long as the payments are made indirectly "through a third party" (the research organization) and the pharmaceutical client "is unaware of the identity" of the research respondent.

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