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More drug company transparency in the works

The U.S. government will soon require drug companies to reveal the payments they make to doctors for research, consulting, speaking, travel and entertainment, The New York Times reported this week.

The move by the Obama Administration is meant to curb potential conflicts of interest. Public health experts have long warned that these cash payments and freebies can have an undesirable influence on the prescribing habits of physicians.

Many medical associations and consumer advocates, including some in Canada, have called for greater public disclosure of the financial ties between physicians and industry. But, without mandatory rules, it's difficult to estimate the extent of these practices.

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U.S. officials reportedly plan to post the information online, and companies will face hefty fines if they fail to a make a full disclosure.

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