The Sunshine Act requires pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to report payments and transfers of value that they make to physicians and teaching hospitals. The provisions are designed to make the healthcare market more transparent. However, a survey of more than 1,000 physicians, conducted by MMIS, Inc., found that more than half of the survey respondents didn’t know the law requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to report the expenditures annually, and that the information would posted to a public, searchable database. The doctors seemed particularly concerned with the fact that the information would be made public.
In the comments section of the survey, many complained of a loss of privacy and that the public may misunderstand the relationship between physicians and pharmaceutical and device manufactures. Prior to the passing of the Anti-Kickback Statute, it was common for many pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to provide items of value including dinners, vacations, event tickets, and payments to physicians in order to influence their prescribing decisions. Since then, sales reps have been limited in what they can offer physicians in the form of gifts or promotional materials; however, many have found clever ways to get around the law.
According to the survey, 54% of physicians who had industry relationships received samples, 57% received food or beverages in the workplace, 48% participated in a medical industry sponsored program, 11% participated in speaker bureau programs, 10% participated in advisory board programs and most surprisingly, 2% are still accepting free event tickets or gifts. CMS is giving physicians and manufacturer six months to get their relationships in order. They will begin to collect data August 1, 2013, and the reporting period will run through December 2013. The data will appear on a public website by September 30, 2014.