If your doctor prescribes a new drug for you, would you want to know first if he was paid thousands of dollars by the company that made the drug? Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is introducing a bill today called the Physicians’ Payments Sunshine Act. He says it would require all makers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to publicly disclose the money they give to doctors including gifts, honoraria and travel.
Grassley says: "My bill would establish a federal law that builds on similar initiatives in Minnesota, Vermont, Maine and West Virginia. There’s a discussion of the issue among Iowa legislators as well. This is all about transparency." Grassley, a Republican, says people deserve to know if their physician has been making any money on the medicine he or she is recommending.
"Right now, the public has no way to know whether a doctor has taken payments from a major drug or device makers, yet payments might effect doctors’ prescribing habits. They might increase the cost of health care. In some cases, they might endanger patients’ health," according to Grassley.
Of his Physicians’ Payments Sunshine Act, Grassley says "sunshine is the best disinfectant." He says payments to doctors come in various forms and sizes. Grassley says: "They might be a dinner at a local restaurant. They sometimes add up to ten or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. We have some record of this with some doctors based upon the transparency of the state laws that are involved."
He says patients shouldn’t be in the dark about whether doctors are getting money from drug companies, saying he’s heard one example of an unidentified doctor getting 180-thousand dollars to be a "consultant" for an unnamed pharmaceutical product.