Merck, Lilly unveil disclosure policies

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Merck announced plans to disclose some grants made by its global human health division for independent educational initiatives in the US, including those for accredited CME. 

The company said it would expand its disclosures over the course of 2009 to include other grants to medical, scientific and patient organizations, including grants from The Merck Company Foundation and the Merck Office of Corporate Contributions. The move came hours after Lilly announced plans to post a registry of payments to physicians. 

Both Lilly and Merck have endorsed the Physician Payments Sunshine Act legislation moving through Congress. Lilly, in particular, has been out in front on transparency issues. In 2004, the Indianapolis, IN-based company began making clinical trials and clinical trials data public. Last year, Lilly led the industry in disclosing CME grants and other contributions with a quarterly report posted online. Other companies, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and GSK, have since followed suit with similar policies.

“With each of our industry firsts, from launching our clinical trials registry to the public reporting of educational grants, Lilly is striving to be a leader in improving transparency across our industry,” said Lilly president and CEO John Lechleiter.

But Lilly will have to go farther than it had planned in disclosing payments to physicians as a result of its $62 million settlement with 32 states and the District of Columbia last month over alleged off-label promotion of Zyprexa. Among the conditions the company agreed to in the settlement was that it would furnish those state AGs with a list of all healthcare professionals paid more than $100 for promotional speaking and consulting in the US. 

That's below the $500-and-up threshold for public disclosure Lilly laid out in its transparency initiative, announced just weeks before the settlement. Cephalon was similarly required to disclose physician payments in a corporate integrity agreement the company entered into as part of its $444 million settlement with states and the Federal government. Cephalon conceded that it had promoted off-label uses for Actiq, Provigil and Gabitril.
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