New bill will require disclosure of drug company payments to doctors

May 9th, 2012

The Physician Payment Sunshine Act—part of the 2010 health care overhaul—will require drug companies to disclose when and how much they pay physicians to give talks or conduct research. The provision will attempt to prevent bias in research and presentations paid for by drug companies, such as the case in which a Paxil researcher overlooked reports of suicidal tendencies by teenagers in a study paid for by the drug’s manufacturer.

Martin Keller was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by GlaxoSmithKline to conduct the disputed research on Paxil. Alison Bass—journalism professor and author of a book detailing the suppression of unfavorable research on Paxil—argues that studies and talks paid for by drug manufacturers leads to overlooked side effects and unreliable diagnoses.

Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Paxil has been found to have several severe side effects, including increased risks of birth defects in women who use the drug during pregnancy. An independent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who take Paxil while pregnant are six times more likely to give birth to a child with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

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