Medtronic to disclose spending in response to Senate probe

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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa is seeking for medical companies to disclose their spending. Source: MSN Money  

Medtronic will disclose the amount of money it donates to physicians, hospitals and medical groups on its website, in response to a February inquiry from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Medtronic plans to make public its financial information on donations after May 1, and will also disclose how much it donates to medical conferences and meetings sponsored by other organizations.

The action comes as legislators are trying to regulate relationships between industry and physicians through the Sunshine Act, crafted by Grassley and Herb Kohl, D-Wis. The bill, if passed, will force executives of 15 drug and medical device companies to publicly disclose payments made to physicians in return for their assistance with product development for the company.

“We believe that appropriate transparency will only support innovation, and greater innovation will produce technologies that are good for everyone,” Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins said in a letter to Grassley’s office.

Grassley wrote to 15 CEOs in February after learning of a plan by Eli Lilly to create a website to disclose its payments to organizations, such as patient groups and medical societies.

Dan Starks, CEO of St. Jude Medical in St. Paul, Minn., in a March 7 letter responded that the company would support uniform reporting guidelines that cover what companies disclose, which he said would be preferable to each company designing its own reporting mechanism.

However, Jim Tobin, CEO of Boston Scientific of Natick, Mass., said that the company already is working toward its own approach to disclosures.

Grassley said he would carefully monitor implementation of the disclosure plans from Medtronic and the other companies that responded to his letter.