Pharmaceutical, Healthcare Industry Pays $3.5 Billion In Five Months To Doctors And Hospitals, CMS Doesn’t Disclose 40 Percent Of The Names

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers paid $3.5 billion to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals during the last five months of last year. Reuters called the information about the pharmaceutical industry’s payments to doctors and hospitals “the most extensive data trove on such payments ever made public.”

The payments made by the pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals were disclosed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week, according to Reuters.

The payments were made to doctors and hospitals for “consulting and speaking fees, travel, meals, entertainment and research grants.”

Most of the recipients were named by the CMS report, but about 40 percent of recipients of the pharmaceutical industry’s payments were not disclosed by CMS. CMS explained that the names of the recipients that were not published were left off of the publication because CMS officials were concerned about data inconsistencies in the information compiled.

Reuters reported that about 40 percent of the payments reported by companies were withheld because CMS had concerns about data inconsistencies. A total of 546,000 physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received 4.4 million separate payments from various healthcare companies.

“CMS is committed to transparency and this is an opportunity for the public to learn about the relationships among health care providers, and pharmaceutical and device companies,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. “This initial public posting of data is only the first phase of the Open Payments program. In coming weeks, we will be adding additional data and tools that will give consumers, researchers, and others a detailed look into this industry and its financial arrangements.”

According to CMS, “Future reports will be published annually and will include a full 12 months of payment data, beginning in June 2015.”

Financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers and health care providers that received payments do not necessarily signal wrongdoing, according to the CMS press release.

“Using this new data, it is now possible to conduct a wide range of analyses of payments made by drug and device manufacturers,” deputy administrator and director of CMS’s Center for Program Integrity Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, said, according to the CMS press release about the data citing pharmaceutical industry’s and device makers’ payments. “Open Payments does not identify which financial relationships are beneficial and which could cause conflicts of interest. It simply makes the data available to the public. So while these data could discourage payments and others transfers of value that might have an inappropriate influence on research, education, and clinical decision-making, they could also help identify relationships that lead to the development of beneficial new technologies.”

To access the data on the CMS website that discloses pharmaceutical and healthcare companies’ payments to doctors and hospitals, check out the Open Payments database.

[Photo via CMS]