Thursday, July 2, 2015

How much money is your doctor receiving from which drug and implant companies?

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are now required by law to release details of their payments to a variety of doctors and U.S. teaching hospitals for promotional talks, research and consulting, among other categories. There is a new public website that enables citizens to check on payments made by industry to individual physicians and surgeons, to see it, click on this link:

A visit to this site's home page reveals that $3.53 billion in payments (excluding research and ownership interests) were made between August 2013 to December 2014 to 681,432 doctors by 1,630 companies. This new transparency is a result of what is know as the Sunshine Act the purpose of which is to enable the public to view potential conflicts of interest.

Some of the top paying companies make orthopaedic devices and some of the top receiving doctors are orthopaedic surgeons.  The site can be searched by surgeon, company, and location.

To get an idea of the nature of these payments and their possible effects on the decisions that doctors make, see these two posts: disclosures of conflicts of interest and the demographics of these disclosures.

Here is some highly related content from CORR, that reviews the Sunshine Act Open Payments database released on December 19, 2014. They found that 15,376 orthopaedic surgeons received payments during the 5-month period, accounting for $109,846,482.  The top 10% of orthopaedic surgeons receiving payments (1538 surgeons) received at least $4,160 and accounted for 95% of total payments. Royalties and patent licenses accounted for 69% of all industry payments to orthopaedic surgeons. The authors of this paper state, "Whether there is a true return of value from these payments remains to be seen"

Readers - whether health care professionals, patients or public - are encouraged to visit the site to become with the information available there.


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