As you may know, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as the ACA or “Obamacare”) included a section known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a bipartisan measure intended to shed light on payments by pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare supply companies to medical practitioners. While the Sunshine Act does not prohibit medical companies from paying doctors, it does provide the public with better visibility into how doctors might be influenced by such payments when prescribing treatments for their patients’ conditions. The new reporting requirements took effect on August 1, 2013.
At Maven, we support the transparency the Sunshine Act intends to provide consumers. While we (like any business) tend to be wary of new government regulations, we believe that Sunshine’s spirit of public disclosure without judgments is commendable. The authors of the law understood that companies consulting with physicians is both necessary and desirable for faster innovations and that most company payments to physicians are completely legitimate and not intended to sway a doctor’s judgment. The new rules strike a balance between transparency, patient protection, and the need for communication and interaction between those developing new treatments and those who will administer them.
Consider the following example:
A product manager from a large company visits a doctor’s practice to observe her treating a group of patients with a rare condition. The product manager wants to better understand how patients react to the various treatment options, including his own company’s drug – i.e. not just how the treatments perform “in the lab,” but how real doctors and patients are using them. The company pays the doctor a consulting fee for allowing the product manager to observe her practice.
In this example, the company does not intend to influence the doctor’s choice of treatments, but rather to gain insights that they can use to improve their product. Nevertheless, the fact that the doctor was paid by the company is information that her patients might like to know. We agree that they should.
Maven’s customers include many of the world’s largest healthcare companies who work with our participants on research projects like the example above. We have a thorough understanding of the Sunshine Act’s requirements and the infrastructure to help them comply with the new reporting requirements.