Senators Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill to require drug companies to disclose the gifts made to doctors in an effort to avoid undue influence on the prescribing of treatments.
The Physicians Payments Sunshine Act would require all pharmaceutical and biological drug and device manufacturers to disclose any payment to a doctor valued at more than $25. The payments to be reported would include not just money, but also speaking fees, trips and other such gifts.
This information would be posted in a clearly understandable language and format on a web site maintained by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Manufacturers found to be in violation of the statute could be fined between $10,000 and $100,000 per unreported gift.
Drug samples and funding of clinical studies are exempted from the reporting requirements of the bill.
“Right now, the public has no way to know whether a doctor has been given money that might affect prescribing habits,” Grassley said.
“This bill is about letting the sunshine in so that the public can know. Whether it’s dinner at a restaurant or tens of thousands of dollars or more in fees and travel, patients shouldn’t be in the dark about whether their doctors are getting money from drug and device makers.”
Currently, the FDA does not regulate or record the gifts made to doctors.
Kohl is the chair of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, and Grassley is a member of the Committee on Finance. In June, Kohl held a hearing to look into the pharmaceutical industry’s gifts to doctors and the possibility of undue influence.
“At our June hearing, the pharmaceutical industry told the Aging Committee that they believe their practices are above-board. If that is the case, full disclosure will only serve to prove them right. If that is not the case, full disclosure will bring their influence-peddling out from the shadows. Either way, patients win,” Kohl said