The Obama Administration is proposing legislation that would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose payments made to doctors for research, consulting, speaking, traveling and entertainment. The intent of the legislation is to head off medical conflicts of interest. The New York Times reported that some researchers found that payments to doctors may influence the way doctors treat patients and contribute to higher costs by encouraging the use of more expensive drugs. According to the Times, doctors who take money from pharmaceutical companies may be more inclined to prescribe drugs in risky and unapproved ways.
Consumer advocates have long demanded details of the financial ties between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Under the new standards, if a company has one product covered by Medicare or Medicaid, it will be required to disclose all payments made to doctors other than its own employees. The payment data will be posted on a website by the government where it will be available to the public. The law will also require companies to report “any ownership or investment interest” held by doctors or their immediate family members.
Companies that do not fully comply will be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 for each payment they fail to report. A company that knowingly fails to report payments will face a penalty of as much as $100,000 for each violation, up to a total of $1 million a year. Hopefully, Congress will pass this legislation. If you agree, let your Senators and House members know how you feel and ask them to support the legislation.
Source: New York Times
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