Mandatory Disclosure of Doctor-Drug Industry Payments?

The American Medical Association (AMA) is ramping up its efforts to stifle the stigma of impropriety among consumer advocates and patient groups, by proposing to add specific guidelines requiring physicians to disclose their financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industry with patients.

The AMA has been actively moving toward reformation since an April 2007 article appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, which highlighted the serious conflicts of interest with physicians and industry.

The AMA’s recent decision to strengthen its guidelines, also follows an initiative in Australia, namely by the New South Wales Advisory Group, Inc., which has promulgated specific standards pertaining to the relationship between hospital staff and the pharmaceutical industry. Australia’s initiative emphasizes that disclosure of financial ties by health care providers “is appropriate in circumstances where pharmaceutical interaction may compromise decisions such as the preparation of clinical practice guidelines or suggesting additions to drug formulary.”

Other advocacy groups such as MedPac, have recently petitioned the U.S. Congress to pass legislation which would make mandatory, the “Public Reporting of Physicians’ Financial Relationships” with the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

Query whether or not printed disclosure of doctor-drug industry payments will eventually supplant the myriad of drug ads and pamphlets, presently common-place in physician waiting rooms.