Physician Organizations, Medical Societies Implore HHS to Reverse Policy on Reprints and Textbooks

Oct. 28, 2013 – On Monday, 33 physician organizations and 41 national and state medical societies sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to express their “serious concerns” about Sunshine Act regulations that consider journal reprints and medical textbooks to be “transfers of value” which are reportable under the Act.

 “We believe the regulations in this regard are contrary to both the statute and Congressional intent and will potentially harm patient care by impeding ongoing efforts to improve the quality of care through timely medical education,” stated the letter, which was signed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Oncology, among others (for full list of signatories, see below).

“The Coalition for Healthcare Communication has been trying to explain to the administration the importance of scientific, peer-reviewed journal reprints and medical textbooks to patient care ever since the regulations were published,” said Coalition Executive Director John Kamp. “Hearing our position strongly stated by 74 physician and medical organizations should help convince HHS that these materials are needed for patient care,” he said.

The groups contend that Congress clearly meant to exclude from reporting those educational materials that directly benefit patients or are intended for patient use, even though the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concluded that these materials are not directly beneficial to patients or intended for patient use. “This conclusion is inconsistent with the statutory language on its face, Congressional intent, and the reality of clinical practice where patients benefit directly from improved physician medical knowledge,” they said.

The letter to Sebelius stated that the Food and Drug Administration issued a guidance document in 2009 on reprints, in which it noted the “important public health and policy justification supporting dissemination of truthful and non-misleading medical journal articles and medical or scientific reference publications.” The FDA guidance document also establishes parameters for medical reprints, stating that they should be distributed separately from promotional information.

Textbooks and reprints “represent the gold standard in evidence-based medical knowledge and provide a direct benefit to patients, because better informed clinicians render better care to their patients,” the organizations asserted in their letter, also commenting that the current reporting requirement “presents a clear disincentive for clinicians to accept” them.

Bottom line, the 74 organizations “are concerned that the final regulations could inadvertently prevent the timely distribution of rigorous, scientifically reviewed medical information to clinicians and patients and thereby undermine efforts to improve the quality of care provided to patients,” according to the letter, which requests that the current regulations on these materials be reversed.

“Companies, physicians and medical societies all are coming together to voice the same concerns,” Kamp said. “As these voices get louder, let’s hope that the folks at CMS really hear what we are saying: High-quality patient care depends on the information contained in reprints and textbooks. In the words of these diverse physician and medical society groups, ‘these materials provide a direct benefit to patients and are critical for patient care.’”

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Signatories to the Oct. 28 letter to HHS:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Neurology

American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

American Association of Neurological Surgeons/ Congress of Neurological Surgeons

American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

American College of Cardiology

American College of Emergency Physicians

American College of Radiology

American College of Rheumatology

American Geriatrics Society

American Medical Association

American Medical Directors Association

American Podiatric Medical Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Society of Anesthesiologists

American Society for Clinical Oncology

American Society for Clinical Pathology

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

American Society of Nephrology

American Society of Nuclear Cardiology

American Thoracic Society

American Urological Association

Endocrine Society, The

Heart Rhythm Society

Infectious Diseases Society of America

International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery

Medical Group Management Association

Society for Vascular Surgery


Arizona Medical Association

California Medical Association

Colorado Medical Society

Connecticut State Medical Society

Medical Society of Delaware

Medical Society of the District of Columbia

Florida Medical Association

Medical Association of Georgia

Hawaii Medical Association

Illinois State Medical Society

Iowa Medical Society

Kansas Medical Society

Kentucky Medical Association

Louisiana State Medical Society

Maine Medical Association

MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society

Massachusetts Medical Society

Michigan State Medical Society

Minnesota Medical Association

Mississippi State Medical Association

Missouri State Medical Association

Montana Medical Association

Nebraska Medical Association

Nevada State Medical Association

New Hampshire Medical Society

Medical Society of New Jersey

New Mexico Medical Society

Medical Society of the State of New York

North Dakota Medical Association

Ohio State Medical Association

Oregon Medical Association

Pennsylvania Medical Society

South Carolina Medical Association

South Dakota State Medical Association

Tennessee Medical Association

Texas Medical Association

Vermont Medical Society

Medical Society of Virginia

Washington State Medical Association

West Virginia State Medical Association

Wyoming Medical Society