Medtronic to disclose payments to U.S. physicians of $5,000+

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Medtronic will begin to voluntarily disclose payments to U.S. physicians for all of its businesses, starting on Jan. 1, 2010 and will publicly report the information annually.

The first disclosure will occur in March of 2011 and will address payments made to physicians during calendar year 2010. The company said it will commission an annual third-party audit to demonstrate its commitment to the accuracy of these postings, and make a summary of the audit results public.

The Minneapolis-based Medtronic will report the amount paid in consulting fees, royalties or honoraria for physicians, who receive payments of $5,000 or more per year. Consulting agreements include counsel for areas such as education and training, clinical trial design and administration, along with product design and safety. The company currently plans to report these data on its company website.

"Relationships between industry and doctors are essential to innovation, education and training in our industry," said Bill Hawkins, Medtronic's chairman and CEO. "Through greater transparency about the nature of these relationships, we will help people better understand how important they are to developing life-saving and enhancing products for patients who need them."

The company initiated a first step toward transparency when it launched its online donations registry in August 2008.

Medtronic is following several other U.S. cardiovascular medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies in this undertaking, including Pfizer, who will disclose any payments for $500 and above per year, and Edwards LifeSciences, who will disclose those physicians who receive the annual same monetary payments as Medtronic's.