January 24, 2009
Ethics Rules May be Tightened for Drug and Medical Device Makers
The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a bill introduced in the Senate, is a parallel effort to that in the House to require drug and device makers to report all financial links with doctors on a federal website. Here's an excerpt from the N.Y. Times piece:
“The public is clamoring for transparency,” one of the Senate sponsors, Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, said. The co-sponsor is Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.
The nation’s biggest hip and knee makers, including Smith & Nephew, Zimmer Holdings, DePuy and Biomet, are operating under Justice Department oversight as part of a deal to resolve allegations they gave doctors illegal inducements to use their products.
Other sectors of the device industry face continuing federal inquiries or are voluntarily taking house-cleaning measures. Much of it involves the public disclosure of information that would be mandated under the Senate proposal — the names of the doctors who work for device manufacturers as consultants, lecturers, researchers or trainers, and how much each one is paid for those services.
Under their Justice Department settlements, the hip and knee makers are already disclosing such payments on their corporate Web sites. And seeing the writing on the wall, several other large device companies, including Boston Scientific and Edwards Lifesciences, recently announced they would do so voluntarily.
Meanwhile, the device industry’s main trade group, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, said it had supported the Senate measure when it was introduced two years ago.
There is little question that battles over how much companies, doctors and medical institutions disclose about their financial ties will continue. But some experts on medical conflicts of interest, seeing the rapid fall of resistance by most major companies, say that a turning point has arrived.
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