The Obama administration issued a new rule this month that requires the makers of prescription drugs and other medical products to disclose what they pay doctors for various purposes, like consulting or speaking on behalf of the manufacturer. This overdue rule adds much-needed weight to previous, more limited disclosure requirements. The goal is to let the public know about payments that might lead doctors to prescribe treatments that benefit them financially without necessarily benefiting patients.
This information will allow patients and their families to check whether their own doctors are receiving payments and to see if those financial connections affect a doctor’s recommendation for a particular treatment or device.
The rules may require 1,000 or more makers of drugs, medical devices and other medical products to report payments, gifts, consulting fees, research support among other types of compensation made to physicians and teaching hospitals. The federal government will post the payment data on a public Web site that will be easily searchable starting late next year.
The rules don’t flatly forbid any payments, but even disclosure alone is an important first step. The data collected will provide the most comprehensive evidence yet of how common various types of payment are, and will allow researchers to document more fully whether these payments influence medical judgments in ways that actually harm patients.
If it turns out that they do, there will be a strong basis for banning such payments completely.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Finding Out Who Pays Your Doctor - NYT