The intention is to publish all payments to an individual or institution that exceed $500 a year and non-monetary items, for example meals, that cost over $25. Also covered under Pfizer’s action are payments to US doctors for consulting and speeches.
This measure goes further towards full disclosure than any other drug maker but it still falls short of the level that would be required if the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2009 is passed into law.
Under the terms of the Act drug companies would have to disclose all payments exceeding $100 a year and would face a fine of up to $1m for failure to comply.
Despite Pfizer falling short of the values in the Act the move has been welcomed by Senator Grassley who co-sponsored the legislation. Steve Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and vocal critic of the industry, has also commended Pfizer.
Both regard Pfizer’s move as a step in the right direction but would still welcome the Act and the $100 limit it brings. However, even with the higher limit scandals such as the $308,000 one doctor received to promote Neurontin at conferences should be exposed quickly.
Information will be displayed on Pfizer’s website by early in 2010 and cover all payments made from July 2009 onwards.