By Charles Ornstein
This week, Congress is expected to consider a bill promoting biomedical research and innovation that would also weaken requirements on pharmaceutical and medical device companies to disclose certain payments to doctors.
The goal of the 21st Century Cures Act, which has bipartisan support, is to help bring drugs and devices to market faster and at lower cost. It would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and would provide grants to states to address the growing problem of narcotic overdoses.
But tucked into the 996-page bill, released on Friday, are provisions that would water down some requirements of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, passed in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act.
That law requires drug and device companies to publicly report virtually all payments to doctors, including meals, gifts, travel, royalties, as well as speaking and consulting fees. The disclosures can be found on the government’s Open Payments website and on ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs tool.
Under the Cures Act, companies would not have to report the value of textbooks and medical journal reprints given to doctors. They also wouldn’t have to disclose payments for continuing medical education courses, essentially training programs funded by companies about subjects that they care about and run by third-parties. Drug companies are not supposed to have a say in the speakers for such programs. [Read more…]