Federal Legislation Would Make Payments, Gifts to Physicians Public
A bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday would require drug and medical device manufacturers to publicly report payments and gifts to physicians, the New York Times reports.
Under the bill, companies with at least $100 million in annual revenue would be required each quarter to disclose gifts or payments exceeding $25 in value, and the information would then be posted on a Web site.
Companies would be required to disclose any payment or benefit made "directly, indirectly, through an agent, subsidiary or other third party," which might include payments by universities and by companies that set up conferences for influential physicians with drug or medical device manufacturer funding. Funding of continuing medical education programs also would need to be disclosed. No-cost drug samples and financing for clinical trials would not have to be disclosed under the bill.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), one of the bill's authors, said, "Right now, the public has no way to know whether a doctor's been given money that might affect prescribing habits."
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said drug and medical device manufacturers have said their payments and gifts to physicians are appropriate, and if "that is the case, full disclosure will only serve to prove them right."
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said, "A new law is not necessary when pharmaceutical marketing is already heavily regulated by" FDA (Harris, New York Times, 9/7).