Next agg-spend reporting deadline looms with little buzz from industry

Reporting by pharma companies on spending on physicians is becoming a non-event

Compared to 2014, when the Physician Sunshine Act rules first went into place, and the first public airing of the aggregated data appeared at CMS in September, this year’s reporting cycle appears to be moving along almost without a hitch. Under the Sunshine Act, manufacturers are obligated to report spending on physicians and certain other healthcare providers, for the 2014 calendar year, by March 31. Comparable rules, with different reporting requirements, also exist in the EU.

Cegedim Relationship Management (Bedminster, NJ), which says it has 60 leading pharma companies worldwide using its AggregateSpend360 software package, announced an update of that package at a recent users group meeting. New features include revised resubmission and validation processes for filing with CMS, and a payment-collection and consent-management feature for European reporting.

The users group meeting also gave the company a chance to poll its clients on current agg-spend practices. Among other findings, Cegedim says:

  • Over 60% of respondents pre-disclose data to physicians prior to reporting to CMS (about 12% disclose to all their physician contacts; the others to selected contacts); just over 20% do not pre-disclose and have no plans to do so.
  • About 55% do not bundle payments made to researchers, but report them, presumably, separately for each research project. About 11% do perform this bundling.
  • Tthere is an internal “attestation” process that is supposed to be carried out within a pharma organization prior to reporting the data, but companies have considerable discretion in who reviews the data and makes an attestation. About 75% of companies perform some level of “sub-certification,” as Cegedim calls it; the most common review occurs at business division and operational management.
  • Most encouraging, Cegedim found that 60% of respondents had lower-than-expected levels of disputes (with physician clients) over what was being reported; but almost 20% had a higher-than-expected level. (It’s hard to say whether this is due to inattention by physicians reviewing what was reported about them, or actual discrepancies—some of which were publicized when the first public release of the agg-spend data occurred.)

Cegedim has started the surveying for a 2015 industry-wide trend report, which it has published annually for several years now. Industry representatives who want to participate should contact the company.