January 23, 2009

Kohl wants gifts to doctors publicly reported

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.


  1. My husband is a doctor and nobody pays him to prescribe drugs. If there is a gravy train out there, how come he doesn't know about it?

  2. Because this is just one more of those "causes" that everyone seems to know about but without specifics. I wonder if people know that all of those great samples that your family doc gives out are also "gifts" and these would go away fast with legislation like this.

  3. Anonymous 11:53am

    I think you are right. That was one of the first things which went through my mind while reading the artical....