A new bill introduced in Congress would require pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies to disclose any payments or gifts made to physicians.

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2008 (H.R. 5605) was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) on March 13. It is the House equivalent of a similar bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last September. The House bill applies to all companies with annual revenues over $1 million, while the Senate bill covers only those with more than $100 million in annual revenue.

At the start each quarter, drug and medical device companies must report any payment or “transfer of value” made to physicians over $25--either directly or through a third party. Payments include compensation, gifts, travel, food, entertainment, consulting fees, and honoraria. The bill also specifies that payments include underwriting physicians to participate in medical conferences, CME, and other educational/informational programs, as well as remuneration for promoting educational programs, and providing materials related to a conference.

Companies must state the name of the physician and other details, including the purpose of the payment. An annual report summarizing all payments must also be made. The data would be posted on a Web site and accessible to the public.

Several states have similar laws on the books, including Minnesota and Vermont.

The federal bill is just in the first step of the legislative process and would need to be approved in the House and Senate.

For more info on federal and state scrutiny of CME and pharma marketing practices, visit MM Rules and Regulations.