Physician and Industry Groups Call on CMS to Provide Context around September 30 Sunshine Data Release

Physician and Industry Groups Call on CMS to Provide Context around September 30 Sunshine Data Release

Physician and Industry Groups Express Concern about Implementation

Washington, D.C. – As the deadline for the release of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act public database draws near, 26 physician associations and biopharmaceutical and medical technology organizations joined together in a letter to urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to address concerns related to the implementation of the Sunshine Act.

Chief concerns addressed in the letter centered around the lack of information on how the data, and context to explain the data, will be presented when it becomes available to the public on September 30, 2014.

"When the data are released, it will be extremely important to provide context for use of the funds that are listed, or the data may be badly misinterpreted," said Dr. Robert E. Harbaugh, MD, FAANS, President of American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). "For example, I am the principal investigator of a grant from a foundation affiliated with a medical device company.  The grant funds an educational and research exchange program between my institution, the Pennsylvania State University, Milton S. Hersey Medical Center, and others in China. The funds from this grant do not support my salary, nor are they otherwise earmarked for me personally. However, without the appropriate context, it may look like I pocketed the entire amount of the grant."

In addition, physician groups expressed apprehension that despite ongoing efforts to inform their members about the registration process, many physicians are still not aware that they must take action in order to review the data that will be reported about them. For those physicians who do attempt to register, many have faced error messages and other glitches, likely due in part to the compressed timeline faced by all stakeholders.

"PhRMA has long supported the goal of transparency that is embodied in the Sunshine Act" said John Murphy, Assistant General Counsel at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "But transparency without appropriate context is not useful to the general public, which is why the law itself requires educational context. Publishing Sunshine-related data along with accompanying context to guide patients' and the public's use in interpreting that data will help everyone understand the vitally important role physician interactions with industry play in drug discovery and patient care. We look forward to working collaboratively with CMS to address these remaining concerns with implementation."