Senators want info on who paid doctors

While they still haven't passed a law forcing drug companies and medical device firms to disclose payments to doctors--as some influential legislators still hope to do--that doesn't mean lawmakers are letting the subject rest on Capitol Hill. In fact, they're keeping the heat on high.

This week, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI)  sent requests for information on whether Columbia University and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation have received money from the medical-device industry. The letters follow a similar investigation that kicked off a few months ago, in which Sen. Kohl sent a letter asking the American College of Cardiology to explain some aspects of its relationship with CRF.

The senators want to know whether research physicians affiliated with these institutions received medical-device industry payoffs. Grassley and Kohl also would like to know more about the Cardiovascular Research Foundation's financial support for an annual conference that just happens to promote cardiac devices and techniques. (Did we mention that CRF just happens to get funding from medical device manufacturers like Medtronic and Boston Scientific Corp.?) They'd also like more data on financial relationships between professors of medicine and cardiac-device companies featured at the conference.

Several individual states have already passed laws requiring similar disclosures, including Vermont, Maine, Minnesota and West Virginia. If the Physician Payments Sunshine Act passes, meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies or medical device makers would face similar requirements everywhere in the U.S.

To learn more about the law:
- Read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)