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Congressmen call on pharmaceutical companies to disclose grant information


WASHINGTON Members of Congress are trying to get legislation passed that would require pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to publicly disclose grants given to outside groups, according to the Associated Press.

For Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the figure that he wants companies to disclose the most is the amount they spent on continuing medical education. Physicians attend such conferences to fulfill their license requirements and to keep up-to-date with the latest treatment trends. Professional associations and companies frequently ask drug and device makers to help pay for the conferences. Recently, Grassley asked 15 companies whether they planned to follow the lead of Eli Lilly which now discloses its grants to such programs.

The responses were generally positive. Medtronic and AstraZeneca, for example, both said they would post payments for professional meetings and patient groups on their Web sites before the end of the summer. The one company that flat-out refused to engage in such disclosure of information was Schering-Plough, which stated: “We do not publish or have plans at the moment to publish a list of charitable contributions or educational grants that medical organizations have received from us.”

Grassley and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., have introduced legislation that would require drug and device makers to disclose anything of value given to physicians, such as payments, gifts or travel.

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