West Virginia Repeals Its Prescription Drug Advertising Expense Reporting Rule

By Dakota Gallivan

On March 24th 2015, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomlin approved Senate Bill 267, which repealed required Prescription Drug Advertising Expense Reporting to the Governor’s Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning (GOHELP). The previous rule required all manufacturers and labelers of prescription drugs dispensed in West Virginia to annually report all advertising expenses for prescription drugs based on aggregate national data. One of the stated goals of the former requirement was to assist the state in its role as a purchaser of prescription drugs and in the administration of state prescription drug programs.

Initially, West Virginia introduced the advertising expense reporting rule in response to its growing health care expenditures. At the time, the State was paying 13% more per person than the national average – a contrast driven largely by West Virginia’s staggering rates of childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, among other chronic and costly conditions. These higher expenditures discouraged many West Virginia employers – and small employers, in particular – from offering health insurance to their employees, deepening the burden on the State. With the passage of GOHELP, West Virginia hoped to gather and respond to critical data that could in turn inform reform efforts and reverse the state’s troubling healthcare trends.

Whether because the data proved too onerous to manage or did not provide the anticipated insight, the Bill has been repealed, and as of January 1st 2015, manufacturers and labelers of prescription drugs no longer have to track and report advertising spend in West Virginia. While this stands in direct contrast to many other states, many of which currently have more strenuous reporting requirements than what is stipulated in the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, the life sciences industry will be watching closely to see if any follow in West Virginia’s footsteps and make similar changes to their reporting policies.