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Tucked into the 21st Century Cures legislation that was negotiated by the House and Senate late last week is a controversial provision to exempt companies from reporting payments made to doctors for receiving continuing medical education sessions, medical journals, or textbooks.

The move — which has sparked objections from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — is the latest in a long-running attempt to roll back requirements for reporting such payments to a federal database that tracks financial relationships between companies and physicians.


Known as OpenPayments, the database was launched in 2014 in response to concerns that financial ties between drug and device makers and doctors may unduly influence medical practice and research. It was included in the Sunshine Act provision in the Affordable Care Act. As we noted previously, an analysis earlier this year found that payments can affect prescription rates.

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  • Corruption is about turning the truth upside down, creating a hidden bubble with it’s own rules and own truth, and hiding the workings of the bubble to hide it from accountability. Hiding financial conflicts of interest that would put the public at risk is just another step in medical system corruption. It seems the medical system is trying to get become like a secret agency, with it’s own authority and it’s own rules and free from the ethical moorings the rest of the world must live by.

  • I’m not sure I totally have this straight, but I gather that the issue is physicians being able to hide CME payments made by pharmaceuticals and the insurance industry. I’d have to say that the incentive for propaganda created by ALLOWING pharmaceuticals and the insurance industry to provide CME seminars in the first place concerns me more. It’s an open invitation to propaganda – one example would be an insurance company giving a program that offers CME credit. The program presents a particular disease as being purely psychological, which is in the insurance company’s interest but ignores the current state of the literature. Not a good thing.

    It seems to me that disclosure in this case is MUCH more important as an issue with regards to insurance companies buying diagnoses in their favor, and Big Pharma persuading doctors to prescribe drugs that may not actually be in their patients’ best interests. This was mentioned in the article, but very briefly.

    I doubt that many patients even know this occurs, but they should. Rather than shutting down the sunshine laws where this is concerned, the press should be revealing more about what is actually happening.

    Bravo Senator Grassley.

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