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Docs and Pharma Payments: Sunshine Act Now In Force

August 1 marked the first day the new Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA), requiring pharmaceutical companies record all payments to physicians in preparation for submission to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in May, 2014. CMS will then assemble a database to be released online September of 2014.

While pharma and the health care industry has groaned and complained,  Medical Marketing and Media reported in February 2012 that their industry group PhRMA thinks names and numbers aren’t enough. Kate Connors, media relations with PhRMA told MM&M “We believe the work physicians do with pharmaceutical companies is of real value, but it takes good context, such as descriptions of research [or of] education outreach, for patients to understand that value.”

CMS rolled out an app “Open Payments Mobile for Physicians” to help docs keep track of the pharma and financial transfers they receive. Although the manufacturers are responsible for reporting, physicians have 45 days to dispute the reported information before it goes public. The American Medical Association is encouraging those who receive payments to stay on top of the information to avoid problems later.

So what does this mean for patients and for attorneys representing injured patients?

Until September 2014, there likely won’t be PPSA info available.

In the meantime, the ProPublica “Dollars for Docs” will be the best resource of payments voluntarily submitted by pharma. Patients might find it enlightening to see that their Doc who prescribes a drug from “X” pharma company has (or hasn’t) received payments from “X.” whether it’s for medical research, speaking fees, or other. Law firms representing patients injured by drugs can get a snapshot of a doctor’s financial relationship with pharma overall.

Accountability and transparency are good things.

Links:

Sunshine Act in today’s pharma forecast as mandate takes effect” by Tracy Staton, Fierce Pharma, August 1, 2013

Good Day, Sunshine: Tools help docs track payments” by Kevin McCaffery, Medical Marketing & Media, August 1, 2013

Should doc-payment rules require more info?” by Tracy Staton, Fierce Pharma, February 21, 2012

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