State sunshine laws have little effect on docs' prescribing behavior

A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that early sunshine laws have little effect on physicians' prescribing habits, reported American Medical News. Although some states already have implemented payment disclosure laws similar to the proposed federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services does not expect federal payment-disclosure requirements to go into effect until 2013.

In spite of the continued push for transparency on these payments, there has been little change in physician's prescribing behavior. Physicians facing early sunshine laws in Maine and West Virginia--states that require pharmaceutical companies to report how much they spend on marketing--continue to prescribe brand-name drugs rather than generic forms, regardless of the mandated transparency. Doctors in support of the Sunshine Act, such as Daniel J. Carlat, director of the Pew Prescription Project, hope to see a shift toward physicians prescribing generic drugs if the legislation requires payment disclosures nationwide. These measures would allow the public to have access to information, detailing which companies have paid physicians and for which products. Article