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Since the 2014 launch of a federal database to disclose industry payments to doctors, the share of physicians who received such funds has decreased, although the total value of those payments remained the same across all specialties, except for primary care, according to a new analysis in JAMA.

In 2014, 52.2% of doctors accepted at least one industry payment from a drug or device maker, compared with 45% in 2018. During that five-year period, doctors received 49.8 million payments overall totaling $9.3 billion. The findings suggest the OpenPayments database — which was created over concerns that industry payments may unduly influence medical practice and research — may have forced companies to disclose payments, but ongoing financial relationships with physicians has not diminished substantially, according to the study authors.


“I think what we show more than anything else is that there’s not a dramatic change in the way physicians are acting with industry since this program was put in place,” explained Deborah Marshall, a co-author of the study and research fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It basically points to the fact that transparency, on its own, isn’t enough to create systemic change in interactions with industry.” The payments analyzed did not include research funding, she noted.

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  • I wish that you would clarify what you mean by “payments.” As an oncologist, our groups of five physicians run clinical trials in our office for pharma. We get “payments” but those pay for the research data collectors and the space we rent for them to do their work. We also get lunches sponsored by pharma reps. Free lunches, but not cash payments for the reps pay the catering services directly. Are both of these included in the “payments” mentioned in your article? If so, it is a bit misleading. Is there anything wrong with getting paid for conducting clinical research? You may debate the ethics of having free lunches, but are physicians the only profession where reps provide lunches? I can’t figure it out because we sure don’t get payments from Pharma for anything else. There are no longer tickets to sporting events or parties at conventions. There are no longer free pens. Those went away more than 10 years ago. Just what are these “payments”?

    • Hi David

      Thanks for the note. The payments did not include research, but everything else, according to the JAMA analysis. The payments tallied did include food and beverage, travel and lodging, speaking, and consulting, categories noted in the Open Payments database.

      Hope this helps
      ed at pharmalot

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