Processing Magazine

More companies volunteering to disclose physician payments

February 24, 2009

Following years of pressure, medical device maker Medtronic Inc. will begin disclosing how much money it gives physicians in various consulting and other payments, though the reporting threshold is far higher than currently proposed legislation, reported by the Associated Press. The move comes months after two U.S. senators asked the company to disclose more about its consulting arrangements with physicians and cited prior allegations that the company paid surgeons to boost spinal implant sales. In 2006, Medtronic settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $40 million over allegations that it paid physicians millions to use its products. The company did not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the deal, and the government agreed to dismiss two cases. More recently, though, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., asked the company to provide details about physicians who receive company payments for consulting services. They had drafted a bill that would require Medtronic and its peers to disclose all payments to physicians over $100. Medtronic has set its threshold at $5,000 annually. Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc. have already volunteered to publish such information, and Medtronic said its decision was also voluntary. In a statement, Medtronic said in 2010 it will start gathering the necessary information, with the first annual disclosure occurring in March of 2011. It also will commission a third party to audit the information. The disclosures will include consulting fees, royalties or honoraria for physicians who receive payments of $5,000 or more annually from Medtronic. Those consulting fees will include counsel for education and training, clinical trial design, administration and product design as well as safety.