Manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological and medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program will have to begin gathering information on payments or other transfers of value they make to physicians and teaching hospitals starting August 1, 2013, according to the recently published final rule of the Sunshine Act.

Companies will need to report gifts, consulting fees, research activities, speaking fees, meals and travel arrangements they give to doctors in addition to disclosing to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ownership or investment interests held by physicians (or the immediate family members of physicians).

Companies will have to report this data to CMS by March 31, 2014. CMS plans to release this data on a public website by September 2014. The companies, as well as the physicians and teaching hospitals, will have an opportunity to review and correct reported information prior to its publication.

The Sunshine Act, officially called “The National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments,” was designed to increase public awareness of financial relationships between drug and device manufacturers and health care providers, and to create greater transparency in the health care market, according to CMS. 

“You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need,” says Peter Budetti, MD, CMS deputy administrator for Program Integrity. This increased transparency is intended to help reduce the potential for conflicts of interest that physicians or teaching hospitals could face as a result of their relationships with manufacturers.