Merck joins Lilly in disclosure pledge

It didn't take long for other drugmakers to follow Eli Lilly's lead in promising more transparency. Before the end of the day Wednesday, Merck had announced that it would pull the veil on physician payments beginning next year. Johnson & Johnson said it plans to start disclosing funding for professional educational grants, patient-advocacy groups and other healthcare charities, also early next year. And AstraZeneca says it's reviewing its transparency policies, considering recent steps toward disclosure of CME grants as "a floor, not a ceiling" in the openness arena.

Already, Pfizer has said it would disclose CME grants, and so has Lilly. And several drugmakers--namely Merck, AZ, J&J, and Lilly -- have pledged their support to the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which would require pharma firms and device makers to disclose the amount of money they give to doctors.

As you know, the relationships between drugmakers and doctors have been getting lots of scrutiny of late. Congress has shone a spotlight on various extreme examples of financial ties between doctors and researchers and the pharma industry. It seems like it's just a matter of time before the government forces some form of disclosure. It makes sense for drugmakers to get out in front of the legal requirement, if only for PR reasons.

- see Merck's release
- check out the New York Times article