Introduction

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has set a January 1, 2013, deadline for pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and biotechnology companies to begin data collection under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. Since its proposal, the act has seen scrutiny from many in the industry, along with confusion regarding the absence of final implementation regulations.

Background

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act aims to enhance transparency among drug makers, physicians and the public by requiring accurate reporting of all financial transactions between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers. The act applies to manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, biologics, and medical supplies, along with group purchasing organizations. All gifts and payments greater than $10 made to physicians and hospitals must be reported, while gifts greater than $100 will be public record and published online. There is concern throughout these industries that the Physician Payment Sunshine Act will result in misinterpretation by the public of healthcare providers’ involvement with drug makers.

Issue

Will the Physician Payment Sunshine Act negatively impact physicians?

Rule

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act will negatively impact physicians if:

  • It is predicted that misleading information could manipulate public perception of physicians

OR

  • The resulting limited physician-manufacturer interaction could create a negative impact

Analysis

It is predicted that misleading information could manipulate public perception of physicians

In an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, President and CEO Michaeline Daboul of MMIS, a Portsmouth, NH, based company, discusses the impact the Physician Payment Sunshine Act will have on physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry. Daboul discusses public perception, saying that information that is available in the public domain could unfairly distort the positive nature of the collaborative relationships that physicians maintain with the industry. Daboul expresses that many new drugs and medical devices have enhanced patient care as a result of the close relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. Although in these cases physicians have a financial relationship with a company, this does not necessarily mean that the physician’s judgment is compromised or unethical, but it could be construed that way.

The resulting limited physician-manufacturer interaction could create a negative impact

A Policy and Medicine article discusses the negative impacts the act will have on not only physicians, but also patients. A CME coalition survey indicated that 47% of physician respondents said that public reporting of their attendance at a commercially supported CME event would be reported as a payment and would affect their decision to attend CME courses. This would prevent physicians from getting the necessary information to inform not only themselves, but also their patients.

Conclusion

Since misleading information could manipulate public perception of physicians and the resulting limited physician-manufacturer interaction could create a negative impact, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act will negatively impact physicians.

For more information on this issue, contact the Kulkarni Law Firm.