Feature Doctors and Industry

Exploring the link between industry payments to doctors and prescribing habits

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6651 (Published 05 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6651
  1. Danny Carlat, Tufts University, Boston, USA
  1. Daniel.carlat{at}gmail.com

Orthopedic surgeons receive the biggest payments from industry in the US according to the Open Payments database. The next step, writes transparency pioneer Danny Carlat, is for researchers to compare payment data with disclosures of physicians’ prescribing patterns

After substantial delays, the Open Payments website was launched on 30 September.1 The website was mandated by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010, and it is a comprehensive registry of payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals by drug and device companies.

This first wave of reports must be interpreted in light of some data limitations and technical problems. These reports cover only the last five months of 2013, and roughly a quarter of industry payments were not published because of disputed amounts and other factors. Of the payments published, a third have been stripped of the doctors’ names because there were problems ensuring that the payments were accurately attributed to the right recipient. Therefore, only about half of all payments are both published and attributed to identified recipients. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the agency in charge of the database, plans to roll out the missing payments …

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