A blog by attorneys for anyone interested in or affected by The Sunshine Act.

Media Comments on 2014 Sunshine Act Data

July 9, 2015
Ruselle W. Robinson

As expected, several media outlets have reported on the 2014 Sunshine Act data release.

Two journals that report regularly on health care issues, and one online public interest journal, are among the publications that  have interpreted the 2014 Sunshine Act/Open Payments data that CMS published on June 30, 2015.

Modern Healthcare, a magazine that reports on healthcare business issues, posted its analysis online on the same day that CMS published the data.  Modern Healthcare focused on the companies that paid the highest amounts to physicians and teaching hospitals in 2014.  Genentech was the leader with $295.4 million in payments.  However, 86% of those payments went to a single hospital as patent royalty payments.  Novo Nordisk reported the most transactions, including nearly 250,000 payments for its diabetes drug, Levemir.  Here is a link to the Modern Healthcare article: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150630/NEWS/150639990

Policy and Medicine, a daily online publication that reports on issues affecting the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, offered a detailed breakdown of the payment data by category—research, royalties, consulting fees, payment for services other than consulting, food and beverage.  Research payments captured the most total dollars with over $3 billion reported.  Food and beverage had the largest number of transactions at nearly 10 million, which was 16 times the number of submitted transactions attributed to research, the next highest category,  Here is a link to the Policy and Medicine article:  http://www.policymed.com/2015/07/inside-the-open-payments-data-two-thirds-of-transactions-worth-20-or-less-research-and-royalties-acc.html

ProPublica, an online public interest journal, reported on industry payments to physicians, highlighting those physicians who had the most interaction with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers as measured by total number of reported transactions and by total dollars received.  One doctor received payments, primarily for food and beverages, on 286 out of 364 days in the year.  Another received $594,363 from 29 different pharmaceutical companies, mostly for speaking engagements and consulting.  Here is a link to the ProPublica article:  http://www.propublica.org/article/a-pharma-payment-a-day-keeps-docs-finances-ok

These three articles, and the many others on the local and national level, are fulfilling Congress’s intent in enacting the Sunshine Act.  Congress feared that hidden financial relationships between medical device/pharmaceutical companies and physicians/teaching hospitals were improperly influencing patient care decisions by physicians and teaching hospitals.  By making data publicly available about these private relationships, Congress hoped discussion and analysis of the data would discourage the formation and/or continuation of inappropriate relationships.

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