Sunshine Act Sheds Light on Gifts to Doctors From Pharmaceutical Companies

CURE, Winter 2014, Volume 13, Issue 4

The private connections between doctors and pharmaceutical companies are now public due to requirements from the Sunshine Act.

The private connections between doctors and pharmaceutical companies are now public. In September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opened access to a public database of those connections (OpenPaymentsData.CMS.gov) as required by the Sunshine Act, legislation that was part of the Affordable Care Act adopted in 2010. Under the act, medical device and pharmaceutical companies are required to submit data annually to CMS on payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. Before the data are posted, physicians will have 45 days to check and correct the information. Some payments, such as educational materials for patients and gifts under $10 in value (unless they accumulate to a total of more than $100 in a calendar year), will be exempt from submission. This act was created so the public could make informed health care decisions based on the knowledge of financial relationships among the pharmaceutical industry, doctors and hospitals.