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September 14, 2011

Information Disclosure and the Physician Payments Sunshine Act—Reply

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Dr Carpenter) (dcarpenter@gov.harvard.edu); and Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Joffe).

JAMA. 2011;306(10):1087-1088. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1299

In Reply: Dr Kimball's argument that physicians deserve some mechanism for correcting factual errors in disclosed information about their financial ties is a reasonable one. In the context of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, such mechanisms should presumably involve the companies that are responsible for providing payment data to the Department of Health and Human Services. We take issue, however, with the assumption that requirements for disclosure of physicians' financial relationships imply a negative normative judgment about the legitimacy of those relationships. Disclosure mandates are not motivated by a desire to “out” physicians who have financial relationships with industry. Rather, they should be seen simply as serving the purpose of transparency. Patients, research participants, and consumers of the medical literature deserve access to material information about the interests of physicians and investigators as they make decisions about care, research, and the interpretation of scientific findings.