Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the comment below about today's launch of the official website for the National Physician Payment Transparency Program.
"The posting of pharmaceutical company payments is still a year away, but getting this public website up and running is a good sign that sunshine in this area can be achieved with online postings. The goal is to help inform consumers and patients in all medical fields about financial relationships between drug makers and doctors, with uniform disclosure. The public deserves a much better picture of the drug industry's financial presence in medicine than it has today."
The National Physician Payment Transparency Program was created by legislation Grassley co-authored with former Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. It became law in 2010.
The legislative reform was based upon Grassley's investigative and oversight work that exposed a number of questionable financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies and leading medical research doctors. Examples include:
At Stanford University, the chairman of psychiatry received a federal grant to study a drug, while partially owning as much as $6 million in stock in a company that was seeking federal approval of that drug. After exposure, the federal government removed the individual from the grant.
At Emory University, the chairman of psychiatry failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments from a pharmaceutical company while researching that same company's drugs with a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health. He earned $2.8 million in drug industry fees from 2000 to 2007 and had at one point consulted for 21 drug and device companies simultaneously. The professor resigned his chairmanship after this became public information.
At Harvard University, three professors failed to report almost a million dollars each in outside income while heading up several National Institutes of Health grants. In response to Grassley oversight, Harvard revised its conflict of interest policies and conducted an internal investigation.
Since enactment the Grassley-Kohl Physician Payments Sunshine Act, Grassley has worked to ensure implementation of the law by the Department of Health and Human Services, after delays and missed deadlines at the health-care agency and the White House Office of Management and Budget.