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New US bill gets Lilly backing

Eli Lilly & Co has announced its backing for a new bill in the US that calls for the creation of a system for registering payments made to physicians by pharmaceutical companies
Eli Lilly & Co has announced its backing for a new bill in the US that calls for the creation of a system for registering payments made to physicians by pharmaceutical companies.

Sponsored by senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Herbert Kohl of Wisconsin, the revised Physicians Payments Sunshine Act would be the first federal legislation of its kind. Lilly has pledged to keep opening up its business to the public to assure them that it is run in accordance with the needs of healthcare providers and patients.

Dr John Lechleiter, president and chief executive officer of Lilly, said: "We welcome greater transparency in the healthcare system and believe this legislation represents an important step in building public trust and confidence in the relationships between the pharmaceutical and device industries, and physicians."

The Grassley-Kohl bill aims to create a national standard of reporting for pharma companies in the US to declare any gifts or monetary compensation given to physicians. Stipulations laid down by the Sunshine Act would see any firms failing to disclose information about payments to doctors incur a penalty fine ranging between $10,000 and $100,000.

"Right now the public has no way to know whether a doctor has been given money that might affect prescribing habits," Grassley said in September 2007, when the idea of a nation-wide payments registration system was introduced on the floor of the US Senate. "This bill is about letting the sun shine in so that the public can know. Patients shouldn't be in the dark about whether their doctors are getting money from drug and device makers."

Jack Harris, vice-president of Lilly's US medical division, explained that the company pays physicians for various tasks, including patient care during clinical trials and lectures designed to raise awareness of the company's products. He said that Lilly remains proud of its long-term relationship with doctors contracted to perform these kinds of services.

Lilly has already taken steps to increase its level of practice transparency and in 2004 became the first company to disclose information pertaining to clinical trials. It has subsequently made publicly available information about its charitable donations and educational grants, and posts details of its philanthropic activities online once every financial quarter.

According to the American-based pharma company, Senator Grassley has openly praised it for its efforts in this area and sent 15 companies letters that said, "I'm asking other pharmaceutical organisations to follow Lilly's lead and show the public there's nothing to hide."

14th May 2008

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