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Association Leaders Lobby Against Sunshine Act
Traveling to Capitol Hill to campaign against the Sunshine Act, Bob Hechler, vice president of the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (GCPPA), and Wayne Greenberg, secretary of the Promotional Products Association of Florida (PPAF), recently met with Senator Bill Nelson and two of his staffers. During the meeting, Hechler and Greenberg emphasized promotional products are a form of advertising and are not used or intended as gifts. "The legislation lumps promotional products in with Rolex watches, fishing trips to the Caribbean and consultant fees," says Hechler, who's also the president of Windbrella (asi/97247). "Once they found the promotional products we brought were included [in the bill], they agreed to talk to the bill's sponsor."

Introduced in January, the Senate version of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act is designed to stop pharmaceutical companies from exerting influence over doctors by providing lavish gifts and services. Under the legislation, companies would be required to disclose virtually all payments to physicians once a $100 aggregate is reached. Hechler and Greenberg are among many in the industry championing an exception that would exclude the reporting of imprinted items that are less than $10 each. "I think there are many people getting involved in the cause and the message is getting out," Hechler says. "We have to realize, though, that electronic letter writing isn't effective. It's phone calls and private visits that are most effective."

According to the GCPPA and PPAF, there are nearly 1,500 industry companies and 13,000 industry employees in Florida alone, representing over $1.3 billion in sales. Nelson, the senior senator from Florida, is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and a strong proponent of compelling pharmaceutical companies to pay for a significant part of the nation's health care overhaul.
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