This week, Johnson and Johnson endorsed the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (S.301), making it the first major pharmaceutical company to endorse the legislation this year. The company also pledged to begin disclosing payments to physicians on its own public website in the first half of 2010.

Last year, Eli Lilly was the first major drug company to endorse the Sunshine act, followed quickly by Merck, AdvaMed, AstraZeneca and PhRMA.  Now that J&J’s on record, can we expect these others to follow suit?

The J&J announcement comes on the heels of another major endorsement: AARP threw the weight of its 40 million members behind S.301 in April. The Senate Finance committee included the bill in its health care reform options memo last week, the same week that the Institute of Medicine called for a Sunshine-like federal disclosure law. This week, 61 other consumer and medical groups joined to send their support to the Finance Committee. This is momentum. And it comes as health reform gathers speed.