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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Report indicates drug makers spent over $2.9 million on Vermont physicians to market products.

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The AP (4/16, Curran) reports, "The nation’s pharmaceutical makers spent more than $2.9 million on Vermont’s doctors, hospitals and universities to market their products in the last fiscal year, according to a report issued Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office." Attorney General William Sorrell noted, however, that the total is "down slightly from the previous year," but "he’s not sure if the drug companies are tightening their belts or if they want to avoid public scrutiny for the payments, whose recipients aren’t identified." Companies are required "by law…to report their spending on consulting and speakers’ fees, travel expenses, gifts, and other payments to or for physicians, hospitals, universities, and others authorized to prescribe drugs." These disclosures "don’t include money spent on advertising." The report indicates that "78 companies spent the money in the year ending July 1, 2008." Notably, "Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer Inc., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Merck & Co. and Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc. were the biggest spenders." But, "more than 80 percent of the expenditures analyzed for the report claimed the trade secret designation," Sorrell noted.