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Posted on 02-15-2013

Morning!

Many patient's come into the office and ask me about conflicts of interest associated with prescribed care by doctors and the incentives received for such a prescription.  The federal government recently released long-overdue regulations requiring drug and medical device companies to disclose payments to physicians. This report was according to news stories published Feb. 1, 2013, in Fox Business News, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Denis Campbell’s UK Progressive, and other news sources.

The regulations, known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, require gifts and payments over $10 to be published in a publicly accessible database by September 2014. This includes gifts of cash, goods or services, travel, meals, speaking fees, and payments for research by drug and device manufacturers. Also, doctors' investments in drug and medical device companies must be disclosed.

The regulations insure transparency in the relationships between drug companies and doctors, and protect the public interest. The rules were co-sponsored by former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) after widespread criticism of corruption in this area of medicine.

"Disclosure brings about accountability, and accountability will strengthen the credibility of medical research, the marketing of ideas and, ultimately, the practice of medicine," Sen. Grassley said. "The lack of transparency regarding payments made by the pharmaceutical and medical device community to physicians has created a culture that this law should begin to change substantially."

It is alleged that gifts by the drug companies to doctors could influence the doctors’ decisions regarding a patient’s medical care.

"You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need," said the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services deputy administrator for Program Integrity, Peter Budetti. "Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors."

Many physicians deny that their prescribing habits are not influenced by these relationships however research has been conducted which shows a different trend.  No before you start blaming your doctor or finger pointing I want you to know most folks in medicine started that carrier to help people and with a servants heart, do it every day.  This article just reinforces my recommendation of question everything.  Ask for an explanation of the care being recommended (as we thoroughly do in our office) so that you can understand its implications both good and bad.  Knowledge is power and in the world of healthcare the average person doesn't stand a chance without a doctor willing to educate them.

Have a blessed weekend!

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