CMS Report: Doctors, Hospitals Paid Billions by Drug, Device Makers

Open Payments program makes data available to the public

Doctors and hospitals in the United States received $7.52 billion in payments and ownership or investment interests from the makers of drugs and medical devices in 2015, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2014, industry payments to doctors and hospitals totaled $7.49 billion.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the CMS to collect data from manufacturers and group purchasing organizations in order to report information about their financial relationships with physicians and hospitals. The data include payments for items and services, including food and beverages, travel, education, honoraria, and research. 

Open Payments is the federally run program that collects the information about these financial relationships and makes it available to the public. The program reported $2.6 billion in general payments, $3.89 billion in research payments, and $1.03 billion in ownership or investment interests in 2015.The findings were based on information from 618,000 doctors, more than 1,110 teaching hospitals, and 1,456 companies.

The CMS determined that 2.3% of all financial transactions between pharmaceutical companies and physicians were related to opioid medications.

A recent study based on Open Payments data, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that doctors who received industry-sponsored meals, most costing less than $20, were more likely to prescribe brand-name medications made by the company paying for the food. The authors cautioned, however, that the association did not necessarily mean there was a cause-and-effect relationship.

Collaboration between companies and physicians helps foster medical advances, according to Matt Wetzel, assistant general counsel at the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

Sources: CMS; January 15, 2016; Reuters; June 30, 2016; and Bloomberg; June 30, 2016.