Texas mulls doc-disclosure law

Speaking of disclosure, a new front is opening in the battle for information on pharma's relationships with doctors. In Texas, lawmakers are pushing measures that would require drugmakers to report all payments to Texas healthcare providers. That's all payments--consulting fees, speaking fees, gifts, travel, you name it--in excess of $25.

"There's a school of thought that doctors are prescribing expensive, higher-level drugs as a result of these drug companies, which throw elaborate dinners and provide them gifts," Sen. Royce West, who filed one of the bills, told the Dallas Morning News. "We want to make sure there is no inappropriate influence."

As you know, a few states already have enacted legislation that requires disclosure of payments and gifts. Congress, meanwhile, has been working on legislation that would mandate disclosure nationwide. If West and his co-sponsors succeed in passing their Texas bill, that could simply fortify efforts to enact federal law. Drugmakers themselves would have an incentive to get behind Congressional action: It would supersede the state laws, which aren't exactly uniform.

Already Eli Lilly, Merck and AstraZeneca have pledged support for one of the bills floating around Capitol Hill. It would require disclosure of payments over $500, rather than $25 as the Texas bill states.

- read the Morning News article