Sen. Herb Kohl is fighting the good fight on requiring drug and medical device companies to report gifts of more than $100 to doctors. Kohl is working with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley on the legislation, dubbed "The Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009."
The proposal, introduced in the Senate this week, would create an online database of gifts doctors receive from corporations trying to win their support - and their patients. Corporations routinely pay doctors to prescribe their products over competitors. Now, the gifts do not have to be exposed (meaning your doctor could be giving you drugs to benefit her or his checking account, not your health).
Kohl and Grassley tried to pass the bill two years ago, but it was never considered by Congress. There will be immense pressure from drug companies and doctors to keep these payments (bribes?) hidden from public view.
Here's a nice rundown of the 2007 proposal, which also had bipartisan support in the House. Drug-makers said they supported the bill, as long as it overturned local and state requirements on reporting payments to doctors. That generally means the industry is trying to get rid of more stringent measures.
Drug-maker Eli Lilly announced last year it would create a limited database of gifts to doctors.
Here's the full language of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009.