Reform bill now includes pharma, devicemaker disclosure of physician consulting

For years, various legislators have struggled with the issue of doctors' accepting payments from drug and device manufacturers, arguing that such relationships were questionable, at best, and harmful at worst. However, so far no federal bills regulating this conduct have become law, though some states have passed related legislation.

Now, however, lawmakers are considering a version of the health reform bill that would require drug and medical devicemakers to disclose consulting agreements with doctors. This requirement, is part of the reform proposal backed by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).

The language is actually drawn from the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which was introduced in 2007. This version would require drug and medical devicemakers to file annual reports disclosing payments to doctors for consulting services as of March 31, 2012. The information would be made available on the Internet. Companies that didn't follow the law could face fines of up to $1 million.

Language in the Baucus version of these rules largely pre-empts laws enacted a small handful of states, including Massachusetts and Minnesota.

To learn more about the proposed reporting requirements:
- read this piece from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune