Here comes AstraZeneca, maker of those popular purple pills for heartburn, with a promise to start disclosing what it pays U.S. doctors to talk up the company's products.
But it's going to take a while before you'll get a peek at who's getting paid to say what. The twice-a-year reports won't get rolling until next year. The debut edition, covering the first six months of 2010, won't appear on the company's Web site until a year from August.
The British drugmaker has taken some hits lately over its alleged promotion of Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug, for unapproved uses, such as treating adolescents. Other lawsuits claim the company withheld information about diabetes risks with the medicine. The company denies those claims.
As Congress pushes for mandatory disclosure of drugmakers' payments to docs, many companies have voluntarily pledged to start sharing more information publicly. Pfizer, the world's largest drug company, said in February that it would disclose what it pays health-care professionals for speaking, consulting and working on clinical trials. Previously, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Eli Lilly said they would also publicly report what they're paying doctors for various services.
Separately, some states are taking action to compel detailed reporting, such as Vermont. In July, a new law is expected to take effect there that will ban some industry practices, such as free meals for doctors, and beef up disclosure requirements.