Washington, DC (Sept. 6)—Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to require pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturers to report the payments, gifts, honoraria, and trips they give to doctors. The Act would apply to manufacturers with annual gross revenues of $100 million or more. It would provide penalties of $10,000–100,000 for each failure to report payments. In addition, the legislation would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to clearly post payment information on a special website. Grassley said the legislation draws on similar initiatives in Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia.
“Right now the public has no way to know whether a doctor’s been given money that might affect prescribing habits,” Grassley said in a press release. “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.”
Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a cosponsor of the bill, said in a press release, “By requiring drug companies … to report on their gifts to doctors, we are empowering patients to talk with their doctors about the drugs they are prescribed and to learn more about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the practice of medicine. I believe that by bringing light to these relationships, this legislation will go far in reducing big drug companies’ influence on the business of medicine.”
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) also are original cosponsors of the Grassley–Kohl bill. Grassley is a ranking member of the Committee on Finance, where he has conducted oversight of educational grants awarded to doctors by drug companies. Kohl chairs the Special Committee on Aging. He held a hearing in June 2007 to examine the financial relationship between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry.
Click here for Grassley’s floor statement about the bill. Click here for information about the Aging Committee hearing.