New website to disclose healthcare industry compensation

July 1, 2010

Payments or gifts of $10 or more to physicians from the pharmaceutical industry will be listed on a public website beginning Sept. 30, 2013, under the recently passed federal healthcare reform law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will post virtually all payments of $10 or more made to physicians or teaching hospitals by manufacturers of drugs, products or supplies covered under Medicare or Medicaid.

Key Points

National report - Payments or gifts of $10 or more to physicians from the pharmaceutical industry will be listed on a public website beginning Sept. 30, 2013, under the recently passed federal healthcare reform law.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will post virtually all payments of $10 or more made to physicians or teaching hospitals by manufacturers of drugs, devices, products or supplies covered under Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Doctors will be able to review the information before it is posted, according to news reports.

Some doctors say the new website may lead to problems, no matter how much - or little - a doctor receives.

Although conference speakers already disclose such conflicts, says Fitzgeraldo Sanchez, M.D., director of dermatopathology at Mid-Florida Dermatology, Orlando, Fla., "If you put that online, and tell how much doctors are getting, it will probably turn off some patients and even some colleagues."

Still, if Medicare slashes physician payments annually, and physicians can discuss products without promoting them, he says, "Why not?"

Mark Lebwohl, M.D., professor and chairman of dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says he prefers disclosure that doesn't potentially create a false impression.

To satisfy his employer's already strict disclosure requirements, he says, "I've asked every company I earn honoraria from to give my honoraria to charity."

If companies say that's impossible, Dr. Lebwohl says he requests to be paid $1 per consulting job.

"I'd much prefer that (to) being on a list where it looks like I took money to affect my prescribing patterns," he says.

Some doctors say working with drug companies is necessary.

"If we didn't work with pharmaceutical companies," says Seth B. Forman, M.D., of Tampa, Fla., "how would we get the word out about new medications and techniques? They can put our names out there, but this had better be a pretty big website, because many physicians are working hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies."

Disclosures: Dr. Lebwohl is a consultant for manufacturers of all biologic drugs, and his department receives clinical research grants from various pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Forman is a speaker for Abbott, Galderma and Valeant Laboratories. He is also a clinical researcher for Abbott and a medical advisory board member for Psoria-Shield. Dr. Sanchez reports no relevant financial interests.