Uncle Sam reveals payment of $3.5 Billion to docs by big pharma and medical device makers

Drug manufacturers and medical device companies paid at least $3.5 Billion to U.S. physicians in the final five months of last year according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services

The payments and so-called transfers of value to an estimated 546,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals include such items as free meals that company sales representatives bring to physicians’ offices, fees paid to doctors to speak about a company’s drug to other doctors at restaurants, compensation for clinical trial research and consulting fees.Some doctors have earned tens of thousands of dollars annually from drug companies by flying to various cities to give paid speeches, while some surgeons have received even larger amounts from medical-device makers, partly from royalties on products they helped develop.

Beginning next year, companies will report full-year data annually. Companies submitted the data to the CMS earlier this year, using the so-called Open Payments portal. The agency has allowed physicians to register with the Open Payments system to get a preview of the payment records, before it went public, to allow time for them to dispute any reports they believed were inaccurate.

The new database may lend itself to a range of uses. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday the department may use the Open Payments data “to help assess the nature and extent of any financial relationships that exist between pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers and prescribing physicians, and whether such relationships violate federal law.”

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers