The financial relationships between doctors and the makers of drugs and medical devices have long been hidden. That’s poised to change on Tuesday with the expected release of the first government data about how much medical companies have paid doctors.
Both doctors’ groups and manufacturers spent heavily to keep the details of these transactions from public view. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which eventually passed into law as part of Obamacare, is mentioned in almost 2,000 lobbying reports since Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa introduced the legislation in 2007. It’s impossible to know how much companies and medical societies have spent on the issue, because lobbying disclosures lump together their spending on many issues.