Experts' View

About the Physician Payment Sunshine Act

Pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies have long provided physicians with promotional materials, ranging from material items such as imprinted office supplies, gifts, travel, and meals, to financial payments for consulting and speaking activities. In recent years, however, questions have been raised about the impact that such financial and material incentives have on both prescribing and purchasing habits, and on patient care and safety.

Calls for increased transparency about the financial relationships between physicians and industry resulted in the inclusion of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In February 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued final rules implementing the provisions of the act.

Under the new regulations, manufacturers (e.g. medical device and pharmaceutical companies) must disclose to CMS all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. Starting in September, 2014, these payments became publicly available on a searchable federal database, referred to as Open Payments (http://www.cms.gov/openpayments/