Intended for healthcare professionals


Kept in the dark: Scotland rejects “sunshine” legislation

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 29 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1379
  1. Joseph S Ross, associate professor
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
  1. joseph.ross{at}

A lost opportunity to have transparent information on improper financial relationships between industry and healthcare professionals

In February, the Scottish government formally rejected a petition to introduce legislation that would have created a searchable record of all payments to healthcare professionals from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.1 “Sunshine” legislation has been enacted elsewhere, including in the US, Australia, and Japan, and there are voluntary efforts in the UK, Germany, and Canada. The decision is a lost opportunity for Scottish citizens to have transparent information on the financial relationships between industry and their doctors and other healthcare professionals.

In the US, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act was enacted in 2009 as part of the Affordable Care Act and mandated drug and medical device manufacturers to start reporting all payments to physicians and teaching hospitals from August 2013.2 Disclosures are made available to the general public through a searchable website. The information includes direct and indirect payments for research, consulting, and advisory board service as well as payments in kind such as food, travel, and gifts; manufacturers must declare the value …

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