Database Debuts Detailing Financial Links Between Physicians And Drug Makers This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Consumer advocates have pushed for years for this kind of government database in an effort to protect against physicians’ conflicts of interest, to safeguard patient care and to prevent unnecessary costs to public health programs. The New York Times: Detailing Financial Links Of Doctors And Drug MakersPharmaceutical and device makers paid doctors roughly $380 million in speaking and consulting fees, with some doctors reaping over half a million dollars each, during a five-month period last year, according to an analysis of federal data released Tuesday. Other doctors made millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop (Thomas, Armendariz and Cohen, 9/30).Los Angeles Times: Database Shows $3.5 Billion In Industry Ties To Doctors, HospitalsThe details published Tuesday in a new government database have been sought for years by consumer advocates and lawmakers concerned that conflicts of interest in the medical profession are jeopardizing patient care and costing taxpayer-funded health programs. This first batch of payment data covers just five months of 2013, but it shows the extensive ties medical companies have forged with doctors and academic medical centers across the country. About 546,000 U.S. physicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received some form of compensation (Terhune, Levey and Poindexter, 9/30).Kaiser Health News: As Payments Database Debuts, Doctors Urge CautionA federal database unveiled Tuesday afternoon details 4.4 million payments from pharmaceutical and medical technology companies to doctors and teaching hospitals, sparking concerns that consumers might misinterpret the information (Luthra, 10/1).The Wall Street Journal: Doctors Net Billions From Drug FirmsThe database revealed some eye-popping totals, such as the $122.5 million paid by Roche Holding’s Genentech unit to City of Hope medical center in Duarte, Calif., as royalties on sales of several products including blockbuster cancer treatments Herceptin and Avastin. Genentech licensed patents from City of Hope based on research the medical center conducted in the early 1980s. The company said that excluding the City of Hope royalties, about 85% of the physician payments it reported to CMS were focused on drug research. City of Hope said the royalties are allocated to the inventors and to support continuing research (Loftus, 9/30).The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: You Can Now Track The Billions That Drug Companies Pay Doctors And HospitalsThanks to a bipartisan transparency initiative contained in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the federal government has compiled a massive database of how much drug and device companies spend on consulting fees, research grants, travel, free lunches and other items worth more than $10. … The rollout of this federal database has been somewhat problematic. Records aren’t complete — about 40 percent of payments have been de-identified because of problems with the data. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency publishing the database, is holding back other records that are still in dispute. It’s also been difficult to navigate the database this afternoon. But these payments will be published on a regular basis, and the quality and reliability of the information is expected to improve (Millman, 9/30).The Associated Press: Drug And Device Firms Paid $3.5B To Care ProvidersThe massive trove of information named companies and many of the recipients. Also listed were types of payments, with details down to travel destinations. Some 546,000 clinicians and 1,360 teaching hospitals received benefits. It’s part of a new initiative called Open Payments, required by President Barack Obama’s health care law. It was intended to allow patients to easily look up their own doctors online, but that functionality isn’t fully developed. In future years, the information will cover a full 12 months and will be easier to search, officials said (9/30).Reuters: Drug, Medical Device Companies Paid Billions To U.S. Physicians, Hospitals In 2013U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals received $3.5 billion from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers in the last five months of 2013, according to the most extensive data trove on such payments ever made public. The payments, disclosed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday, include consulting and speaking fees, travel, meals, entertainment and research grants. The names of the recipients of about 40 percent of the payments reported by companies were withheld because CMS had concerns about data inconsistencies. Some 546,000 individual providers including physicians, dentists and osteopaths and 1,360 teaching hospitals received 4.4 million separate payments from healthcare companies. The companies were required by President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law to disclose to CMS by March all payments of $10 or more made from August to December 2013. Even payments that physicians requested be sent to a charity were required to be reported (Begley, 9/30). NPR: Database Flaws Cloud Sunshine On Industry Payments To DoctorsBut the database is also something else: a very limited window into the billions in industry spending. Before you dive in and search your doctor, here are five caveats to keep in mind (Ornstein, 9/30).Politico: ‘Data Dump’ Reveals Billions In Pharma Payments To Docs, HospitalsIn its first hours, the website was tortuously slow. And it was incomplete: About 40 percent of the records do not identify the recipient because CMS could not match data provided by manufacturers with existing databases (Wheaton, 10/1).Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Drug, Device Companies Paid $3.5 Billion To Doctors, HospitalsOver protests from doctors and industry, the federal government for the first time Tuesday began to detail the billions of dollars that physicians and teaching hospitals receive from companies that sell medical equipment and drugs. The newly public data cover 4.4 million payments during the last five months of 2013 that totaled $3.5 billion. Fridley’s Medtronic Inc. appeared to be the biggest payer in Minnesota, with more than $10 million in spending just from its spinal and vascular divisions. St. Jude Medical in Little Canada spent just over $3 million (Carlson and Olson, 9/30).The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Does The Open Payments Database ‘Distort’ What Docs Get For Research?The database, which is being administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will initially display payments made in the last five months of 2013 and will be updated going forward. Already, though, both industry and physician groups have complained that payment data lack sufficient context for the public to understand what doctors are paid. And doctors also griped they had little time to review data. Now, a group of academics from Johns Hopkins University have raised another issue. The law requires drug makers to report the total amount of “research payments” to researchers for use in clinical trials. But the academics – three bioethicists and a professor of medicine and pharmacology – argue this stipulation creates a “distorted” image of the money that doctors may receive, because it does not break out a value assigned to medicines that companies provide for the research (Silverman, 9/30).