Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), senior republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says he will propose legislation requiring drug makers to disclose the payments they make to doctors for consulting, lectures and other services.
Grassley cited the case of a prominent child psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati, who made $180,000 over just 2 years from the maker of an antipsychotic drug now widely prescribed for children.
The drug industry opposes such registries, saying they would discourage doctors from receiving needed education. John Bentivoglio, a lawyer in Washington who represents drug makers, said the registries would be a burden for the companies and might be misinterpreted.
“One of the concerns is that these payments are seen as bribes,” Mr. Bentivoglio said. “That’s not the case. The vast majority are lawful payments for services.”
A University of Cincinnati spokesman said he did not know how much Melissa DelBello, MD, the child psychiatrist, made in combined payments from all eight drug makers she consults, replying “We do trust our faculty when they’re making these disclosures.”
Grassley said he would propose that drug makers make public any payments made to doctors who bill the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, which would include nearly all doctors.
Noting that voters can easily look up the contributions made to elected officials, he asked, “Shouldn’t we hold doctors to similar standards?”