The Sunshine Act appears as Section 6002 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has as its goal to create a national transparency program for payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals by drug and medical-device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that more than 90% of physicians have some type of business relationship with industry sources. Pharmaceutical companies are reported to have spent $15.7 billion in 2011 on sales and promotional activities.
Beginning Aug. 1, drug and device companies will need to start keeping track of transfers of value worth more than $10 to physicians and teaching hospitals. Physicians will have the opportunity to review what is reported about them in the second quarter of next year, and the reports will be made public on Sept. 30, 2014.
The Act attempts to address concerns regarding conflicts of interest, noting that 60% of physicians reporting an industry relationship are involved in medical education and 40% are involved in creating clinical practice guidelines.
While the prospect of these relationships being made public is troubling for some physicians, their revelation is important be cause fiscal conflicts of interest can affect the way doctors practice, do research and teach. See here, here and here.
See also Baucus-Grassley Investigation into Medtronic Reveals Manipulated Studies, Close Financial Ties with Researchers from the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. Here's a quote from that report, "Without public disclosure of their roles, Medtronic employees collaborated with physician authors to edit – and in some cases, write – segments of published studies on its bone-growth product InFuse. The studies as published may have inaccurately represented InFuse’s risks and may have placed added weight on side effects of alternative treatments. Medtronic, which describes itself as “the world's largest independent medical technology company,” also maintained significant, previously-undisclosed financial ties with physicians who authored studies about InFuse, making $210 million in payments to physicians over a 15-year period"
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