Senator calls for Mass. clinical trial transparency

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pharmaceutical companies, Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Pharmaceutical industry

Senator Richard Moore has criticised transparency laws in Massachusetts, US, which he claims allow pharmaceutical companies to hide payments made to physicians conducting clinical trials.

Moore claims that since the current legislation only covers payments made “in connection with the company’s sales and marketing activities​” there is a loophole regarding clinical trials.

It is Moore’s belief that the public have the right to see payments, gifts or other economic benefits given to physicians conducting clinical trials and that the state is currently failing the people in this respect.

Moore said:​“Patients and consumers generally have no idea what kind of relationships exist between their doctors and pharmaceutical companies or medical device manufacturers, relationships that result in billions of dollars per year in payments to health care practitioner​.

Any reluctance by the industry to disclose those relationships makes such relationships all the more suspect​. The regulations as currently drafted create a loophole that permits the industry to continue to make payments to healthcare providers with no oversight and no accountability​.”

Moore is concerned that by not closing the loophole Massachusetts is slipping behind the federal government’s transparency efforts and the self-disclosure of pharmaceutical companies. He believes this is not acceptable for a state with “a history of setting the bar for the rest of the nation​”.

Beyond this Moore cites economic and ethical reasons for updating the legislation, citing a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that suggested payments affected the drugs a physician used.

One study found that physicians’ interactions with drug companies correlated with their tendency to prescribe new, branded drugs instead of generics.

A second study suggested that contact with a drug company made physicians more likely to request their hospital stocked the products sold by that firm, even in the absence of a therapeutic advantage over currently available medicines.

These studies suggest that there is a wider economic consequence to payments, which Moore believes is one reason to increase transparency.

In addition, by increasing transparency physicians are more likely to question the appropriateness of accepting a payment, which is recommended by the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Internal Medicine’s joint guidance.

The Senator’s complete testimony can be found here​.

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