Eli Lilly and Co. and Merck and Co. have announced plans to publicly
disclose payments to U.S. physicians beginning in 2009.
John Lechleiter, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Lilly,
announced on September 24 that the company will establish an online registry
of its payments to physicians who serve as speakers and consultants for the
company. The registry will become available for public access as early as the
second half of 2009 and will be updated annually with the previous year's
payment information, according to the announcement.
A day later, Merck announced its plan to follow Lilly's example and
disclose payments to physician speakers beginning in 2009.
This policy echoes the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, proposed by Sens.
Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), which would mandate a
national registry of physicians who receive payments, including gifts and
travel, valued at more than $25 from pharmaceutical and medical-device
companies, as well as disclosure of other types of financial relationships
between industry and medicine.
Although Congress has not yet passed the measure, several major companies,
including Lilly, Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson and Johnson, have publicly
endorsed it. Lilly said it plans to make its physician payment registry
compliant with the current requirements in the bill by 2011.
In response to increasing scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest
between industry and physicians and calls for greater transparency, some
companies are instituting new policies to address their relationship with
physicians. Both Lilly and AstraZeneca have begun to post the distribution of
their medical educational grants, including funding for continuing education
for health care professionals, on company Web sites. Merck said it would begin
to post this information in October. ▪