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KAI RYSSDAL: What would you rather do? Have somebody tell you what the rules of the game are? Or have a chance to make them up yourself? Some of the country’s biggest drug companies and medical device makers have voted for option B, thanks. They’ve decided to disclose how much money they’re giving doctors and advocacy groups who prescribe or recommend the use of their products. And no, it’s no coincidence that Congress is considering rules about improper influences in medical care. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale has the story.
JOHN DIMSDALE: Republican Senator Charles Grassley is sponsoring a bill to require industry disclosure. He recently asked more than a dozen companies to voluntarily reveal their payments and most said they’ll begin this summer.
Natasha Rosario at Columbia University’s Center on Medicine especially welcomes finding out about industry backing for nonprofit advocacy groups, such as the American Heart Association or American Diabetes Association.
NATASHA ROSARIO: There is a conflict of interest when we don’t know whether the products they promote or the policies they promote are because of their ties with industry rather than for what is good for the public interest.
But Peter Lurie, at Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, doesn’t hold out much promise for voluntary disclosure.
PETER LURIE: This would be a step in the right direction if the companies actually complied. But what we’re more likely to see is a scatter-shot approach with various companies disclosing various things.
Reliable disclosure, he says, can only come from a government mandate.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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