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New Law: Docs Must Disclose Industry Gifts, Cash

At least one provision of the federal health reform law should cast new light on the controversial and often secretive relationship between physicians and the drug and medical device industry, according to a detailed report published today by Kaiser Health News.

Reporter Arlene Weintraub writes that the so-called Physician Payments Sunshine Act "requires companies to begin recording any physician payments that are worth more than $10 in 2012 and to report them on March 31, 2013. That includes stock options, research grants, knickknacks, consulting fees and travel to medical conferences at chi-chi hotels. The details will be posted in a searchable database starting Sept. 30, 2013."

A few states, including Massachusetts, have already banned certain types of corporate payments to physicians, however, the federal law will require even more disclosure and will allow consumers to more easily access the data, Weintraub writes.

Moreover, she says, it appears that once states require the disclosure of gifts, speaking fees and other industry goodies, the practice seems to decline. Vermont, which initiated a new reporting requirement in 2002, recently "released data showing that total payments to physicians dropped 13 percent in fiscal 2009 to $2.6 million."

This program aired on April 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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