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US bill will force disclosure of doctor payments

A bill introduced in the US Senate will force pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers to report payments and gifts to doctors

A bill introduced in the US Senate on 6 September 2007 will force pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers to report payments and gifts to doctors, according to the New York Times.

Companies with at least USD 100m in annual sales would have to disclose gifts or payments exceeding USD 25 in value each quarter, and the information would then be posted on a publicly accessible website.

Companies will have to disclose any payment or benefit made "directly, indirectly, through an agent, subsidiary or other third party", which might include payments by universities and by companies that organise conferences for Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) with drug or medical device manufacturer funding.

Funding of continuing medical education programmes would also need to be disclosed. No-cost drug samples and financing for clinical trials would not have to be disclosed, according to the bill.

Senate Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley (Republican, Iowa), who is one of the bill's authors, said: "The public has no way to know whether a doctor's been given money that might affect prescribing habits."

Ken Johnson, senior vice-president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), countered: "A new law is not necessary when pharmaceutical marketing is already heavily regulated by the FDA."

30th September 2008

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