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Mass. eases restrictions on meals bought for docs

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BOSTON (AP) — Health care providers will be able to enjoy "modest meals" paid for by pharmaceutical companies or medical device makers under new rules approved by a state health board.

A 2008 gift ban law bars those companies from buying meals for doctors, except in hospitals or other health care settings. But drug makers and medical device companies argued the ban was too restrictive, and the Legislature recently instructed regulators to ease it.

The Public Health Council did so Wednesday, voting to allow drug companies and medical device makers to provide modestly-priced restaurant meals. The council didn't give a specific dollar limit, but said a meal shouldn't cost more than a doctor might pay if dining at his or her own expense.

AARP Massachusetts expressed disappointment that a modest meal wasn't more clearly defined.

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