Remember the Physician Payments Sunshine Act? If it's a vague memory, don't feel bad. The legislation that mandated disclosure of financial ties between industry and doctors is years old now. And because regulations to implement the act are 15 months overdue, it's not exactly front-of-mind for the average pharma-watcher.
That's exactly why the AARP, AFL-CIO, and 17 other healthcare advocacy groups are agitating for those rules. The influential groups issued a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, urging the Obama administration to roll out those regulations ASAP. After all, the legislation is aimed at holding the line on healthcare costs--by minimizing pharma influence on brand-name prescribing--and at protecting patients from unhealthy results of untoward financial relationships, the groups wrote.
"There is a significant consequence for healthcare system costs associated with the ongoing delay in implementation because of the practice by some physicians of over-prescribing certain drugs, or by otherwise prescribing medically unnecessary and expensive treatments," the letter states (as quoted by The Hill).
Meanwhile, as Forbes reports, some prominent doctors wrote a similar missive to the White House chief of staff. Three years after the provision was signed into law as part of the Affordable Care Act, the physicians are "disappointed" that the sunshine provisions remain unimplemented. "Financial relationships between physicians and drug and medical device companies can create conflicts of interest that threaten the quality of patient care and drive up healthcare costs," states the letter, signed by such well-known doctors as Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steve Nissen and former New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief Dr. Jerome Kassirer.
The scuttlebutt is that the regulations have been drafted by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as required. But they're held up at the White House, in the OMB. We'll see whether the latest round of pleas has any effect.