The relationship between US pharmaceutical, device manufactuirers and physicians is a long and complicated one. One of the big complications is the amount of money that changes hands, in one way or another. Propublica has a large section of its web site devoted to this very topic, with their own database trying to collect data on physicians monetary relationships to Pharma, and a collection of article links that are not terribly flattering to us.
Many organizations and universities have stepped up, trying to do the right thing, and groups like "No Free Lunch" have been pointing out the inherent problems with our relationships for many years.
But now there is a "Sunshine" provison in the Affordable Care Act that may at least bring some light, and maybe heat, to the money involved. From a report in JAMA from February:
"Public awareness of industry payments to physicians and teaching hospitals in the United States is about to markedly increase. As required by the “Sunshine” provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by September 2013 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is to publish “transparency reports” that disclose these industry payments on a public website; the information must be “searchable,” “clear and understandable,” and “able to be easily aggregated and downloaded.”1 Unlike most disclosures of physician-industry relationships to date, the reports will include the amounts of payments or other “transfers of value.” Payments large and small should be revealed, including the drug or device that the payment was related to."
We are still in the rules making process, and this article has several suggestions on how to improve the rules, but...
Thanks, again, Affordable Care Act!