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Medical Industry Must Disclose Doctor Payments, U.S. Says

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Payments from drugmakers and medical device companies to doctors must be disclosed to the U.S. government beginning next March, regulators said.

The 2010 health-care law, the Affordable Care Act, requires the companies to report their payments to physicians for help with research, speaking engagements and other activities. The government will begin disclosing the payments on a public website by Sept. 30, 2014, according to rules issued yesterday.

“You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need,” Peter Budetti, deputy administrator for program integrity at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. “Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors.”

The rules for the program have been delayed more than a year, drawing criticism from congressional proponents of disclosure. Once the government begins reporting the payments, patients will for the first time be able to view doctors’ financial links to drugmakers.

The disclosures, to be administered by Budetti’s office, include ties between companies and physicians who advise the Food and Drug Administration when it considers whether to approve new medicines.

The American Medical Association, the largest trade group for doctors in the U.S., had lobbied for some kinds of indirect payments to physicians to be excluded from disclosure. The government said it wouldn’t require payments to be reported if companies don’t know who the money is going to, citing as an example a payment a drug company might make to a consulting firm which then employs a physician.

Jeremy Lazarus, president of the AMA, said his group would “carefully review” the rule.

“Our feedback during this rulemaking process was aimed at ensuring the new registry will provide a meaningful picture of physician-industry interactions and give physicians an easy way to correct any inaccuracies,” Lazarus said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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