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Physician Payment Sunshine Act Is Good News for Patients

The Affordable Care contains a number of measures to improve patient care. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act is one example.

The regulations require drug and medical device makers to disclose any transfer of value to a physician that exceeds $10. It may include money, gifts, meals, and other perks bestowed upon physicians. Drug companies must also report whether a physician or his or her family members have an ownership stake in the company outside of publicly traded stock. The goal is to reveal possible conflicts of interest that may compromise patient care.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, most doctors have pure motives when they prescribe drugs and device. However, that is not always the case, and some are swayed by the lavish gifts and meals offered by the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, studies have shown that doctors who receive food from a company are more likely to prescribe that company’s products, even though they might not be doing it consciously.

Therefore, the goal of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act is to make these payments available to public, so that patients are aware of any outside influences that may impact their care and can discuss them with their doctor.

The final regulations were released earlier this month. Data collection will begin on August 1, 2013, but the first report will not be available to the public until September 30, 2014.