Pharma companies to disclose payments to Ontario doctors

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If bribery is illegal, pharma payments to health professionals sure looks like a form of it.

Ontario would become the first province to require public disclosure of payments that pharmaceutical and medical device companies make to doctors, under legislation that was introduced on Wednesday.

This legislation is a development that was a result of province consultations over the summer with patient groups, health-care providers and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries about payments such as speaking engagement fees, paid meals, and travel expenses.

The legislation would require disclosure of the payments and create an online, searchable database of that information.

Ten major pharmaceutical companies released data earlier this year showing they had paid nearly $50 million to Canadian health-care professionals and organizations last year.

Payments from pharmaceutical companies to health-care providers can raise concerns about conflicts of interest in the prescribing and promotion of certain drugs.

A policy from the regulatory body for doctors in the province says physicians must not accept compensation from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries in exchange for meeting with promotional representatives, and they must not accept personal gifts.

They can, however, accept items such as teaching aids that benefit patients, under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s policy. They can also accept drug samples.

Doctors are allowed to accept compensation at “fair market value” for presenting at industry-supported continuing education events, sitting on advisory or consultation boards, and for participating in industry research.

But many of the details, such as the minimum payment that would trigger the disclosure requirement, will be left out of the legislation and decided through regulations. -CINEWS

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