Online Database Reveals Financial Relationships between Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies

Patients rely on the recommendations of their doctors to make decisions regarding their health, medications, and treatments.  We expect that those recommendations will be unbiased.

Financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies and our health care providers may influence what medications and treatments we receive.  Nearly 95 percent of U.S. physicians accept gifts, meals, payments, travel, and other services from companies that make the drugs and medical products they prescribe, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.  An analysis of 29 studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000 found that doctors who accept fees, meals and other perks from drugmakers are more likely to prescribe their brand of drugs.

The Affordable Care Act’s Physician Payment Sunshine Act is increasing transparency in the health care market by requiring physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers to disclose their financial relationships.

The Sunshine Act defines a “physician” as any of the following types of professionals who are legally authorized to practice:

  • Doctor of Medicine
  • Doctor of Osteopathy
  • Doctor of Dentistry
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • Doctor of Podiatry
  • Doctor of Optometry
  • Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies must publicly report payments or other transfers of value over $10 they make to physicians and teaching hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports about $3.7 billion worth of transactions between approximately 366,000 American physicians and 2,531 pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers in 2013.

To inform and empower patients,  the federal government created the Open Payments program under the Sunshine Act. Patients can easily determine if their health care provider or hospital has a financial relationship with a pharmaceutical or other health care company.

Search this public website https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/ for your healthcare provider.