AstraZeneca and Merck & Co, plus two trade associations (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and AdvaMed) are the latest groups to give their backing to the revised Physician Payments Sunshine Act concerning gifts to doctors.

A week ago, Eli Lilly became the first firm to back the changes to the bill which raises the payment limit requiring disclosure from $25 to $500, while possible fines have been reduced to $1,000-$50,000 from $10,000-$100,000 for each violation. Now Merck has pledged its support saying it commends the sponsors of the Sunshine Act, Senators Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa) and Herbert Kohl (Democrat-Wisconsin) for attempting to create “a single, national system for the reporting of information”.

The company’s chief executive Richard Clark said “we especially appreciate that your revised draft legislation does not impose substantial additional burdens on physicians who are already subject to many demands that take them away from patient care”. AstraZeneca echoed Mr Clark’s sentiments and Tony Zook, president at the firm’s US subsidiary said the legislation “will create greater transparency around our relationships with physicians, while helping the public understand how we work with healthcare providers”.

The Sunshine Act also got the support of PhRMA, whose president, Billy Tauzin, wrote to the senators saying that “your substantial improvements to the legislation indicate that you understand and share our concerns”. However, he added that “like any compromise, there are still areas where we may disagree and we would welcome efforts to further improve” the bill.

Sen Grassley was pretty pleased with the responses he received, saying that “this movement toward transparency is good for the system. It fosters accountability by empowering consumers and other watchdogs.” He concluded by noting that “the kind of support that continues to grow from industry leaders contributes in an important way to achieving new nationwide requirements”.