WASHINGTON - Legislation that would require prescription drug makers to disclose payments to doctors got a boost yesterday when Eli Lilly and Co., broke ranks with the industry and endorsed the bill.
Lawmakers gained Eli Lilly's support after they agreed to raise the payment limit requiring disclosure from $25 to $500. The lawmakers also agreed to apply the legislation to all drug and medical device makers. Previously, the disclosures would have applied only to companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue.
The legislation addresses concerns that payments, such as picking up the tab for dinner or paying travel expenses for a conference, can influence a doctor's prescribing habits. The legislation doesn't ban the payments, but it does require that companies report them, beginning March 31, 2011.
The legislation would preempt laws in the few states that already require drug makers to disclose their payments to doctors.
John C. Lechleiter, Eli Lilly's president and chief executive, said the preemption was an important addition to the bill.
"This helps patients, businesses, and doctors alike by setting expectations and creating a more efficient system for gathering, reporting, and understanding such data," Lechleiter said.
The bill's sponsor, Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and top Democratic cosponsor, Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, said Eli Lilly's endorsement shows "transparency's time has come."