SENATORS WELCOME ENDORSEMENTS FROM PHRMA, ADVAMED, ASTRAZENECA, AND MERCK OF PHYSICIAN PAYMENTS SUNSHINE ACT
May 22, 2008
Under legislation proposed by Grassley and Kohl, payment information would be disclosed to the public via a searchable, online database. Estimates indicate that the drug industry spends $19 billion annually on marketing to physicians in the form of gifts, travel, meals, and other consulting fees. Grassley and Kohl said the industry organizations’ support for the measure represents a willingness to promote transparency in their financial relationships with physicians. The announcement follows recent endorsements from Medtronic, Eli Lilly and Company, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Zimmer.
In addition, Merck & Co. and AstraZeneca International joined the industry organizations today in endorsing the Grassley-Kohl legislation. Letters from PhRMA, Advamed, Merck & Co., and AstraZeneca International are posted with this news release at http://finance.senate.gov and http://aging.senate.gov.
“This movement toward transparency is good for the system. It fosters accountability by empowering consumers and other watchdogs,” Grassley said. “The kind of support that continues to grow from industry leaders contributes in an important way to achieving new nationwide requirements. Requiring disclosure of payments to doctors doesn’t mean that anything has to change, and if there’s nothing to hide, there’s no reason to worry. The legislation we’re working to get passed would apply to drug makers and medical device manufacturers of every size. It would make information about payments to doctors, and not just big payments, available to the public in a user-friendly way. It builds on and improves the important state-level initiatives that revealed important concerns and set the stage for federal reform.”
“If this legislation is passed, it will greatly change the way drugs are marketed in America by increasing transparency. It speaks to the quality of our policy that the very industries affected by it have embraced it. These endorsements are significant, to say the least,” Kohl said.
“This is common sense legislation that helps ensure the integrity of our health care system,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “It’s important to shed light on the millions of dollars these companies spend on marketing – money that could be put into research or lowering the cost of prescriptions.”
Last fall, Grassley and Kohl introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (S.2029) in response to growing concerns about the lack of disclosure of these financial relationships. They are eager to see legislation included in a Medicare bill considered by the Senate this year. Grassley is Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, which has legislative responsibility for Medicare. Kohl is Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which has held several hearings on drug marketing over the past year. Klobuchar is an original cosponsor of the Grassley-Kohl Physician Payments Sunshine Act.
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PhRMA’s endorsement letter can be found here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/letters/phrmaendorsementltr.pdf
AdvaMed’s endorsement letter can be found here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/letters/advamedendorsementltr.pdf
Merck’s endorsement letter can be found here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/letters/merckendorsementltr.pdf
AstraZeneca’s endorsement letter can be found here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/letters/astrazenecaendorsementltr.pdf