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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doctors Face New Scrutiny Over Gifts

By Peter Loftus
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published August 22, 2013

U.S. doctors are bracing for increased public scrutiny of the payments and gifts they receive from pharmaceutical and medical-device companies as a result of the new health law.

Starting this month, companies must record nearly every transaction with doctors—from sales reps bearing pizza to compensation for expert advice on research—to comply with the so-called Sunshine Act provision of the U.S. health-care overhaul. The companies must report data on individual doctors and how much they received to a federal health agency, which will post it on a searchable, public website beginning September 2014.

Many doctors say the increased disclosures are making them rethink their relationships with industry, citing concerns about privacy and accuracy, and worry that the public will misinterpret the information. Some fear patients will view the payments as tainting their medical decisions, and will lump together compensation for research-related services with payments of a more promotional nature.

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