Senate Bill Would Mandate Manufacturer/Physician Gift Disclosures

September 12, 2007

Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have introduced legislation to require drug and biologics manufacturers to disclose the amount of money and other gifts they give to physicians.

According to the senators, S. 2029, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, introduced Sept. 6, builds on similar state initiatives in Minnesota, Vermont, Maine and West Virginia. It would apply to manufacturers with $100 million or more in annual gross revenues, with penalties for not reporting physician payments ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 per violation.

In addition, S. 2029 would require the HHS secretary to create a website and post payment information in a clear and understandable manner.

“Right now the public has no way to know whether a doctor has been given money that might affect prescribing habits,” Grassley said. “This bill is about letting the sun shine in so that the public can know. Whether it’s dinner at a restaurant or tens of thousands of dollars or more in fees and travel, patients shouldn’t be in the dark about whether their doctors are getting money from drug and device makers.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a co-sponsor of the bill, called it a common sense approach to expose the amount of money drugmakers spend on marketing. That money “could be put into research or lowering the cost of prescriptions,” she said.

However, Ken Johnson, PhRMA senior vice president, said the industry already has a mechanism in place to curtail excessive gift giving or other impropriety between manufacturers and physicians.

“The PhRMA marketing code says all forms of entertainment, including competitive sporting events and games of golf, are inappropriate,” Johnson said. “The guidelines also say that only modest meals should be allowed, and gifts should not exceed $100 in value and should be only those items that support a medical practice, such as a stethoscope or a medical dictionary.”