Device, drug companies must start disclosing physician payments in 2014

Another piece of the Affordable Care Act is now set. Beginning in March 2014, medical device and drug companies must disclose any payments they make to physicians and surgeons. If there's a cash transaction to aid in research, for example, or a speaker fee involved, it must be reported to the federal government. If you are a company that pays a physician who advises the FDA on a pending product approval, that payment must be disclosed, too.

As of Sept. 30, 2014, those payment disclosures will be posted on a government website, according to new rules issued Feb. 1. Bloomberg highlights the major provisions in an article covering the issues involved.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will administer the new rules, which were delayed for more than a year.

What is at issue here is transparency. If patients can determine the financial relationships, if any, that their doctors have with a device or drug company, then they can make more informed decisions about their care. Do they want to be implanted with a stent, for example, if their surgeon receives payments from the stent manufacturer for an outside consulting deal? Patients may ultimately decide to do so, but having the added information allows them to make that choice more freely, in theory.

One exception--the government won't require reporting of payments made to physicians indirectly, such as to a consulting firm that may have a physician on staff, Bloomberg reports.

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