Drug, Device Makers Gave Calif. Providers $638M Over 5 Months
California physicians and hospitals received $638 million in payments from drugmakers and medical device manufacturers in the last five months of 2013, according to data on CMS' recently launched Open Payments System, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune et al., Los Angeles Times, 9/30).
Details of Database
The Open Payments System, which is required under the Affordable Care Act's Sunshine Act, aims to boost transparency by making public what payments health care providers have received from drugmakers and medical device manufacturers.
The database initially includes payments made to chiropractors, dentists, physicians, podiatrists and optometrists. The data show payments made during the last five months of 2013, including:
- Consulting fees;
- Research grants; and
- Travel payments.
The database divides the records into three categories:
- General payments;
- Research payments; and
- Physician ownership and investments.
In addition, the data include physicians' ownership stakes in "group purchasing organizations," which buy drugs and devices for broader populations.
However, CMS said last month that about one-third of CMS Open Payments Systems records will be withheld upon launch because of data inconsistencies. CMS gave providers until Sept. 25 to review and request corrections to data.
The database originally was intended to allow consumers to search for their own physicians' information, but that functionality is not yet ready (California Healthline, 9/30).
The Obama administration has said that additional data will be available in June 2015 (Wolfson/Kyle, Orange County Register, 9/30).
The data show manufacturers made 4.4 million payments to 546,000 physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals across the U.S. during the last five months of 2013, valued at $3.5 billion (California Healthline, 9/30).
- 43% of the payments were related to medical research; and
- The remaining $2 billion was related to general payments and ownership stakes.
Payments made to California-based health care providers accounted for 18% of the total payments outlined on the CMS website (Los Angeles Times, 9/30).
In California, the data show that Neal ElAttrache -- an orthopedic surgeon for the Los Angeles Dodgers and consultant for other Los Angeles-area sports teams -- received the most money from medical device manufacturers and drugmakers during the last five months of 2013. ElAttrache received a total of $2.4 million from Arthrex, an orthopedic tool manufacturer. He said that all 20 payments were related to royalties for devices he invented (Orange County Register, 9/30).
In addition, City of Hope, a Duarte-based cancer treatment center, received $122.5 million in payments related to royalties from Genentech.
- Irvine-based Allergan, a Botox manufacturer, reported $17.6 million in general payments -- the fourth-highest amount nationally; and
- Thousand Oaks-based Amgen, a biotechnology company, reported $7 million in payments.
Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union's San Francisco-based Safe Patient Project, said the data "will require everybody to talk about something that's been underground," adding that payments to physicians from pharmaceutical and medical device companies is "a widespread practice that does influence the kind of care patients get."
However, Shantanu Agrawal, a deputy administrator at CMS, noted that the data do not "identify which financial relationships are beneficial and which could cause conflicts of interest. It simply makes the data available to the public" (Los Angeles Times, 9/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.