Transparency and the Physician Payments Sunshine Act

Transparency and the Physician Payments Sunshine Act

The pharmaceutical industry spent approximately $27 billion in 2012 promoting and marketing its products to physicians. These payments, and those made by the medical device industry, create medical conflicts of interest, which, according to the Institute of Medicine, “threaten the integrity of scientific investigations, the objectivity of professional education, the quality of patient care, and the public’s trust in medicine.”

The Sunshine Act, signed into law in 2010, mandates that financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device companies be disclosed to the public. Specifically, industry must report annually most of the payments and other "transfers of value" made to doctors and teaching hospitals.

What is a “transfer of value”?

Companies must report any payment worth at least $10, such as

  • Funding for speaking, consulting, travel, educational conferences, or research.
  • Gifts such as meals and textbooks.
  • Charitable contributions.

How specific are the disclosures?

Companies must report the receiving physician’s name and address, as well as the value, date, and nature of the payment. When a payment for marketing, education, or research is specific to a drug or device, the name of that product must be reported.

Does the law limit gifts and payments?

The law requires the public disclosure of financial relationships between physicians and industry but places no limits or restrictions on them.

Will the law stifle medical innovation and research?

The law is not meant to stifle collaboration between industry and physician—a critical factor in the discovery of new medications and devices—but to ensure transparency in these relationships. Similar transparency provisions in individual states have not been shown to reduce research and development investment or academic-industry collaboration.

How will payment information be made available?

The law requires payments to be published annually on a searchable and sortable website. In addition, annual summary reports will be produced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Has the law been implemented?

Reporting of payment information was required by law for calendar 2012, with the first public release of data in March 2013. Because of delays in the rule-making process at CMS, however, the first release of data (for part of 2013) is scheduled for September 2014.

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.
ian-hutchinson-U8WfiRpsQ7Y-unsplash.jpg_master

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

Lightbulbs
Lightbulbs

States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.