Not that long ago, Congress required pharmaceutical and medical device companies to disclose the value of their cash and gifts to physicians. Beginning in 2020, StatNews reports that Congress may require these drug and device companies to disclose how much they are paying nurses and other health care providers.
If the bi-partisan opioid bill passes, which it looks like it will, pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers will have to make public the amounts they spend on nurse practitioners, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse-midwives, as well as physician assistants. We already know that the drug and device makers spend more than six billion a year on doctors and hospitals for “consulting” services, “speaking fees” and other services. These payments often lead these providers to promote the companies’ products and otherwise look favorably upon the companies.
We do not have a good handle on how much the drug and device companies spend on nurses and other health care providers. Often it is not the physicians but the nurse practitioners who fill out the prescriptions and make decisions about the drugs and other medical products patients use. So, it is likely that they do receive cash and other gifts from industry.
Senator Claire McCaskill tried to include a provision in the opioid bill that also would have required the drug and device companies to disclose the amount of money they contribute to advocacy groups. Unfortunately, that provision is not in the bill before Congress. This information would be helpful to know. Many advocacy groups that might appear to be independent, such as most of the large disease organizations, actually receive significant support from industry.
Pro Publica has a tool that allows you to learn whether your physician takes money from the drug industry, Dollars for Docs. Kaiser Health News has a tool that allows you to learn about some of the patient advocacy groups that take money from the drug industry, Pre$cription for Power.
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