Today’s session at B2DG meeting (www.bio2devicegroup.org), featured an exciting panel discussion on Sunshine Act and it’s implications for industry-clinicians partnership. The new Sunshine Law will require industry to disclose all payments above $10, made to physicians and other healthcare providers, including nurses and medical student interns. Doctors who accept speaking fees, five-star meals and other compensation from pharmaceutical or medical device companies, will see their names displayed and the value of the gifts they accept, revealed on the Web. The assumption is that highlighting the medical industry’s largesse may curb the payments but there could be other implications of this law. This session was moderated by Alan May, Director of Emergent Partners. Panelists included Dr. Gary Fanton, MD at Stanford University, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, MD and Director at the Center for Cardiovascular Technology at Stanford, and Dr. Faouzi Kallel, Sr Manager of Pre-Clinical Research at Boston Scientific.
May posed the question to the panelists regarding the impact of the law on innovation, since innovation requires a close partnership between industry and physicians. According to Fanton, it will be important to ensure that the distance does not segregate physicians from the industry during the critical device development process. “Most innovation comes from edge of chaos and from the youth” said Fitzgerald and he expressed an opinion that young people very likely will find the stringent aspects of the disclosure very daunting and it could drive them away from innovation. Combined with other challenges, it could even drive young clinicians to other offshore locations, opined Fitzgerald. Faouzi’s suggestion was that along with disclosures, there is need to educate the patients that physicians need to be paid for providing legitimate services. Fanton opined that this law will cut down on largesse and the abuses but it is a little like closing down the freeway because of some speeding motorists. Fitzgerald concurred that there was a real danger of curbing open access and disincentivizing collaboration. A counter argument was raised from the audience member who suggested that this law levels the playing a field for entrepreneurs and young startups. Previously they could barely afford huge fees charged by the clinicians. With the enactment of this law, with full disclosures and payment by “fair market value”, the playing field will be leveled, for newly emerging startups, with stringent resources. Panel acknowledged that as a possible positive impact of this law. It was an interesting and interactive meeting, with a very large attendance.