Pharma faces payment disclosure law

Senator Charles Grassley said he would, and now he has: The Republican introduced a bill Thursday that would require drug and medical device makers to report almost every cent they pay to doctors. Each payment of more than $25 would have to be disclosed quarterly, and the data would be posted on a government website.

For several months now, news reports and Congressional hearings have been questioning the flow of dollars from drug makers to doctors--everything from free meals to speaking fees to consulting payments. Some doctors have reaped hundreds of thousands a year in such gifts or fees-for-services. The natural follow-up question--does it change doctors' behavior when they pick up their prescription pads?--has prompted much defensive denial, but it's also inspired fears of unnecessarily costly scrips and even patient harm.

Anticipating the outcry from pharma, Sen. Herb Kohl, the bill's co-sponsor, said that if companies have nothing to hide, then disclosure will only vindicate them. "Either way, patients win," he said.

- check out the release
- read the New York Times article

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