SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal to require drug companies to report to the attorney general the gifts they give to health providers was rejected by the state Senate on Monday after critics complained it was an effort to punish the industry. "This is nothing more than, 'Let's go after the pharmaceutical companies,' because this is a favorite whipping boy right now," said Republican Whip William Payne of Albuquerque. Its sponsor, Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, said the data base of gifts of more than $100 from drug and medical equipment manufacturers to individual providers — and to those making institutional decisions about what drugs to buy — could be helpful to consumers. And it could provide a means of tracking to what extent such gifts influenced prescribing patterns, Feldman said. Expensive gifts, such as trips, "do create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest," she said. Free samples of drugs or medical supplies or devices would have been exempt from the reporting, under the bill. The measure was defeated, with 16 lawmakers voting for it and 24 against it.