Drug companies plan to disclose grant funding

Hoping to stave off outside regulation by Congress, a group of the nation's largest drug and device manufacturers have put forth plans to publicly disclose the grants they make to outside organizations. In a recent letter to 15 such companies, Sen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) noted that Eli Lilly already discloses the grants it makes for continuing medical education programs, and asked them to explain why they weren't making similar efforts.

In response to Grassley's letter, virtually all of the companies outlined disclosure plans, though the plans differ in the details. For example, Medtronic said it will post payments for professional meetings and patient groups on its site beginning May 1, and AstraZeneca will follow its lead starting Aug. 1. Boston Scientific, for its part, said it would soon disclose certain payments to physicians, a particularly newsworthy concession. The only holdout was Schering-Plough, which told Grassley that it didn't have plans to publish its charitable contributions anytime soon.

Sen. Grassley, along with Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) already have introduced legislation that would require drug and device makers to disclose anything of value given to doctors, including not only payments, but also gifts and travel. However, they're really hoping to see these industries disclose medical education payments, too.

To learn more about the drug and device makers' plans:
- read this Associated Press piece

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