Going into effect earlier this month, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act will require pharmaceutical companies to report most of the payments and gifts they give to doctors and teaching hospitals.  The major exception to the Physician Payments Sunshine Act?  Compensation from businesses to doctors speaking at accredited, continuing medical education events.

According to The Wall Street Journal, information regarding payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors and teaching hospitals will be posted on a publicly accessible website beginning in September 2014.

The law applies to manufacturers of both medical devices and pharmaceuticals that take part in federal health care programs.  According to the Journal, Pfizer alone paid out over $170 millions to health care professionals in 2012.

The drug industry has come under criticism for some time for the hundreds of millions of dollars it hands out annually to doctors in the form of gifts and fees.  A large portion of the money reported is in the form of nebulous consulting and speaking fees, which can top tens of thousands of dollars at a time.  This should be a red-flag to physicians to review their relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.   So think twice before accepting that pen from your local drug rep.