The Sun No Longer Shines for Physicians Receiving Gifts

healthcare-reform 2A new federal law known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act seeks to strengthen the patient-doctor relationship with the implementation of a new database that lists all gifts physicians have received from pharmaceutical companies and the like. The Sunshine law intends to prevent corruption among medical providers by making the gifts they accept public knowledge. Physicians are often persuaded by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs over others, receiving gifts in exchange. These gifts range in value, from a tote bag to elaborate vacations and ultimately influence what brands doctors choose to prescribe to their patients.

Dr. Robert Steinbrook, an adjunct professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical says, “There is extensive literature suggesting that gifts can influence behavior.” Many physicians acknowledge that even small pharmaceutical donations can a create conflict in their practices.

The new database will be searchable by physician name, type of gift received, and it will include explanations about the services physicians provided in return for payments. Although the new law falls short of banning physicians from accepting gifts or companies from offering them, it will enable patients to challenge their doctor’s prescribing behavior. Patients will soon be able to determine whether or not they are receiving a genuine recommendation or if their doctor was instead showered with industry gifts.

Yours in Health,

Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN