US Prepares Rules for Disclosing Drug Company Payments to Doctors

Posted January 18th, 2012 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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The United States is preparing to require drug makers and medical supply companies to disclose payments they make to doctors and teaching hospitals.

The rule is part of a sweeping reform to the national health care system signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. It is intended to make the companies relationships with health care professionals more transparent to patients and ward off potential conflicts of interest.

The proposal calls for companies to report annually on money they give to doctors and hospitals for consulting, travel, research, speaking, gifts and food.

The Obama administration proposed rules for the program in November, and the public had until Tuesday to submit comments. Companies would not be required to begin disclosing payments until March 2013.

The administration says “financial ties alone” do not mean there is an inappropriate relationship, but critics say the ties with manufacturers can influence the way a doctor provides care.

The proposed rules would punish companies with a fine up to $10,000 for failing to report a payment, and up to $100,000 for each time they knowingly withhold the information.

The program would exempt payments that are less than $10.

It is expected to apply to more than 1,100 companies that manufacture drugs and medical devices covered under government health care programs for the elderly and the poor.