Stanford to disclose physician payments starting at 5K
Stanford University School of Medicine in California will be posting the medical- and research-related consulting activities for approximately 1,200 affiliated physicians and faculty on its web site.

The new policy is slated to go into effect later this year and will make widely available to the public information that clinicians and researchers already disclose annually as part of the school's procedures to manage conflicts of interest, according to Stanford.

The policy applies when faculty members or other Stanford physicians receive consulting payments for speaking or other honoraria of $5,000 or more per year from a commercial entity for activities related to their professional activities. By the end of the year, the school said it will report these relationships in the online profiles for such faculty and physicians, which will be updated annually.

"Access to information about physicians' interactions with industry is key to fostering strong doctor-patient relationships, as well as increasing public confidence in the medical community," said Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the medical school.

Stanford's plan is similar to that of the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

"This is part of a larger trend of increasing emphasis on transparency," said David Rothman, PhD, director of the Center for Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University in New York City.

Also noted in the online profiles will be any companies from which the researcher or clinician has the right to receive royalties for inventions or discoveries; in which the person holds equity as a result of activities as a founder, inventor or consultant; and for which he or she serves as a director or holds other fiduciary offices.

The policy follows efforts by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to highlight undisclosed drug company payments to physicians. The lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require pharmaceutical and device companies to make public such payments. According to Rothman, who studies conflict-of-interest policies, some states have already enacted such measures, and a number of drug and device companies have begun voluntarily publishing on their websites specific dollar amounts given to physicians.