Gifts to physicians to be disclosed by law
Feb 02, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
After a long delay, the federal government Friday issued rules that will require drug and medical device companies to list payments made to doctors.
The payments will not become public until September 2014, but for the first time there will be widespread transparency in an area of medicine that critics say has been corrupted by money.
Rules established under the law, known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, will require disclosure of payments of more than $10.
The legislation was co-sponsored by former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).
It followed a long string of scandals about secret drug and device company payments to doctors and investigations by congressional committees.
In a statement issued Friday, Grassley said the law will serve the interest of patients.
"Disclosure brings about accountability, and accountability will strengthen the credibility of medical research, the marketing of ideas and, ultimately, the practice of medicine," he said. "The lack of transparency regarding payments made by the pharmaceutical and medical device community to physicians has created a culture that this law should begin to change substantially."
It is estimated that complying with the new reporting requirements will cost drug and device companies $269 million the first year and $180 million each year after that.
One loophole in the reporting requirements will be payments made to doctors for participating in continuing medical education talks and programs. In the past, drug companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually funding doctor education courses.
Typically, those payments are not made directly to the doctor by the drug company but rather through third-party organizations known as medical education communication companies.
While doctor education is supposed to be free of bias, there have been instances when speakers spoke favorably about a drug produced by the companies that funded the courses.
Initially, such payments were to be disclosed, but in the final rule they were exempted, provided that the drug company was not involved in selecting the speakers and is not aware of who they will be.
Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 up a maximum of $150,000 for the year and up to $1 million for deliberate failure to report.
New transparency rules: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-02572.pdf
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