Sunshine Act Sets 2014 Date for Naming Docs Who Take Industry Cash and Perks

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday released the long awaited final regulations for the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was part of the broad health care overhaul in 2010.

The act will require drug and medical device companies to report to the government any cash or other transfers of value they make to doctors. This includes payments and perks for services such as consulting, speaking, research or attending events. CMS will then take these reports and set up an online searchable database listing physicians who have received cash from these companies and how much the individual physicians received.

The database will be ready by September 2014, CMS says. Data collection from the drug and device companies starts this August — a delay from the original start date that the companies had pushed for.

In a statement, the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) said: “MITA and our member companies have long supported the Sunshine Act and commend CMS for issuing the final regulations. We appreciate that CMS has given device manufacturers 180 days after publication to implement the final regulations, so that our members have sufficient time to successfully implement the law. MITA looks forward to conducting a thorough review of the rule, so we are able to help our members fully understand the provisions.”
For physicians, including radiologists, the Act also includes a provision allowing them 45 days to review, dispute and correct the information provided about them before it is posted in CMS’s online database.

While some companies already disclose payments publicly on their own websites and many academic journals now require authors to report financial relationships with industry when their research is published, a single searchable government database that patients and the public can use concerns many doctors, according to one major survey.

MMIS, Inc., a global technology company, this week released its third annual survey of doctors and their knowledge of the Sunshine Act. Among the more than 1,000 doctors that responded to the survey conducted by The Regulatory Law Group, PLLC, using Healthcare Data Solutions' database of physicians, between January 17-18, 2013, nearly two thirds (63%) were “deeply concerned” that a record of these payments will be available in a publicly searchable database.

Additional survey findings according to MMIS:

  • 21% of physicians would sever their relationship with a manufacturer who reported inaccurate information about payments or transfers of value if disclosed to the public.
  • 43% said the Sunshine Act would affect their ongoing relationship with industry.
  • 54% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships received samples.
  • 57% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships received food or beverages in the workplace.
  • 48% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships participated in a medical industry sponsored program.
  • 11% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships participated in speaker bureau programs.
  • 10% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships participated in advisory board programs.
  • 2% of the physicians in the survey who had industry relationships accepted free event tickets or gifts.

Read the final Sunshine Act regulations.