After more than a year of prodding from the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the federal government took a major step today aimed at exposing potential conflicts of interests between doctors and drug companies.
The long-awaited rule -- drawn from the Physician Payments Sunshine Act - was released late Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The rule puts in place a system requiring pharmaceutical and medical device makers to disclose payments and gifts given to physicians. Consumers will have access to the information through a database administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Critics have long contended that the drug industry's practice of paying doctors influences medical decisions and leads to over-prescribing medicines and patients receiving unnecessary and expensive drug treatments.
"Everybody is served when there is full disclosure," said Nelson, who assumed the chairmanship of the Aging Committee last month. "This is exactly the kind of work the committee should be doing to help consumers and the elderly."
Nelson credited former Aging Committee chair, Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley for taking steps to get the disclosure requirements included in the Affordable Care Act.
You can read more about the rule here.