Editor's note: Howard Fienberg is chief lobbyist and vice president, advocacy for the Insights Association. 

It has been a big year for marketing research and data analytics in the government affairs arena, with wins, losses and new challenges in pharma, the census, telephone research, independent contractor status of insights participants, and privacy and data security.

The Insights Association’s (IA) pharmaceutical insights advocacy concern for more than a decade has been the restriction or prohibition of incentives for medical professionals participating in pharmaceutical and medical device marketing research.

Maine finally delved into rule-writing this summer for the state’s 2017 ban1 on gifts from pharmaceutical companies to physicians. That 2017 law turned Maine into a no-go state for pharma MR with doctors, like it was prior to our successful repeal of an old Sunshine-style law in 2011,2 because pharmaceutical companies treat it as a de facto ban on respondent incentives for health care practitioners participating in marketing research sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. The Insights Association made our case for exempting marketing research incentives but while the Board of Pharmacy fleshed out a few aspects of the law, our concerns were left unaddressed.3

The city of Philadelphia got in the game recently as well.4 Absent a specific carveout or clarification, the city ordinance would likely have banned incentives for health care practitioners participating in marketing research studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, even though such studies are generally conducted by independent research companies and the sponsoring manufacturers are not typically aware of which practitioners participated. Howard Schlesinger (Schlesinger Associates), Roni DasGupta (M3 Global Research) and Ileen Branderbit (Focus Pointe Global) joined the Insights Association for meetings in Philadelphia seek...