Financial gain and gifts from pharmaceutical companies impact drug and diagnostic prescription behavior among physicians. This “conflict of interest” driver may be one reason why the CDC registered around 100,000 American deaths per year with prescription drugs.
In this perspective, since 2009, 17 pharmaceutical companies and their subsidiaries effectuated approximately $4 billion in payments to doctors, other medical providers and health care institutions. (Source)
To mitigate abuses and conflict of interests, in 2010, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act)was enacted. (1) This Act is a United States healthcare law to increase transparency of financial relationships between health care providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. It requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and biologicals that participate in U.S. federal health care programs to report certain payments and items of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been charged with implementing the Sunshine Act and has called it the Open Payments ProgramExternal Link.
ProPublica (1) took these disclosures and assembled them into a single, comprehensive database that allows patients to search for their physician or medical center and receive a listing of all payments matching that name. The database can also be searched by state and by company. It can be filtered by category and by year.
Let us hope that this law increases the transparency of financial relationships between health care providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, lessens conflicts of interest and promotes more patient safety.
(1). The Sunshine Act was first introduced in 2007 by senior US Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and Senator Herb Kohl from Wisconsin, a member of the Democratic Party. The act was introduced independently and failed. After debate by various groups, it was enacted along with the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Cf. Campbell, E. G. (2007). “Doctors and Drug Companies — Scrutinizing Influential Relationships”. New England Journal of Medicine 357 (18): 1796–1797.
(2). ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer prize, this group produces investigative stories with “moral force”, by shining a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.
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