The Sunshine Act: What You Need to Know

Oct 28, 2013

This summer, the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services (CMS) beganrequiring data collection for the PhysicianPayments Sunshine Act, a transparencymeasure implemented as partof the Patient Protection and AffordableCare Act to disclose financial relationshipsbetween physicians, teachinghospitals, and the pharmaceuticalindustry. Manufacturers of drugs anddevices will have to collect informationabout payments or transfers of valuethey make to physicians and reportthe information to CMS, which willcompile the data and make it publiclyavailable online.

“ASCO is committed to providing youwith information [about the SunshineAct] on an ongoing basis. You can prepareyourself and your practice for thisnew law by reviewing the informationand making sure you understand whatinteractions with manufacturers willappear on the public website,” ASCOCEO Allen S. Lichter, MD, explained inan open letter to members.

What kind of payments arereported?
The Sunshine Act requires manufacturersof pharmaceutical drugs and devices,as well as group purchasing organizations(GPOs), to report payments ortransfers of value made to U.S. physiciansand teaching hospitals. The lawalso requires manufacturers and GPOsto report physicians who have an ownershipinterest in the company.Payments for research, such as grants,speaker’s honoraria, travel expenses,meals, entertainment, gifts, educationalmaterials (including textbooksand journal reprints), participating in apaid advisory board, and writing manuscriptsmust be reported. Reports areonly required for physicians licensedto practice in the United States. Thisexcludes medical students, residents,support and office staff, nurses,advanced practice nurses, physicianassistants, and others.

When does data collection begin,and when are reports published?
The Sunshine Act requires that allpayments or transfers made startingAugust 1, 2013, be reported to CMS.Reports will be made annually and willbe posted on a public website afterSeptember 30, 2014.

What should I do to prepare?
Physicians will not be responsible forreporting any information to CMS, butmay be asked to provide information toa manufacturer or a third party so thatit can be included in a report. When registrationbecomes available, physicianscan register on the CMS website ( to receive a notice that reportsare available for review. Physiciansemployed in teaching hospitals can asktheir institution about any new reportingrequirements. Physicians can downloadan app developed by CMS to keeptrack of payments or transfers made tothem. Physicians can ask their contactswithin manufacturing companies aboutthe company’s plans to keep physiciansinformed when reports are planned.Physicians will have the ability toreview their reports and to challengethose reports that are false, inaccurate,or misleading.

Are there special rules foroncologists?
No. The Sunshine Act applies to allphysician specialties and generalpractitioners.

Will my ASCO activities beaffected?
Most ASCO activities, such as attendingthe Annual Meeting, paying membershipdues, subscribing to the Journalof Clinical Oncology or the Journalof Oncology Practice, and serving oncommittees, are not reportable. Someactivities, such as accepting paymentas a speaker for a non-CME meetingsponsored by ASCO, receiving certaingrants from the Conquer CancerFoundation, or attending a company-sponsoredevent, are reportable.

ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundationhave made a commitment tophysician members to clearly communicatewhenever an ASCO or Foundationactivity could result in a report.Members will have the opportunity todecline participating in an activity toavoid having ASCO report informationback to a manufacturer.

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