Medical companies paid physicians, teaching hospitals $6.49B in 2014

Drug and medical device makers paid physicians and teaching hospitals $6.49 billion last year, according to the most recent round of data published through CMS' Open Payments website.

The Open Payments program, which was mandated by the Sunshine Act provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires physicians and teaching hospitals to report on payments from drug and medical device companies, and the program aims to create greater transparency around the financial relationships of these entities.

The most recent round of data includes information on about 11.4 million financial transactions attributed to 607,000 physicians and 1,121 teaching hospitals. The data includes payments made for speaking fees, research, gifts, travel or meals.

Regarding the release of the data, Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said, "In year 2, Open Payments is now a highly searchable resource to provide transparency to over 1.5 years' worth of financial transactions between drug and device companies and physicians and teaching hospitals. This is part of our larger effort to open up the healthcare system to consumers by providing more information to help in their decision making."

After the data was posted, the American Medical Association released a statement calling into question the validity of the data.

"Unfortunately, the vast majority of the data released today has not been independently validated by physicians, which makes it less usable for the patients it's intended to benefit," said the AMA. "While we appreciate the efforts of CMS to verify the data submitted by the industry, the complicated and cumbersome process for physicians to register to review their data and seek correction of any inaccuracies continues to hinder their participation in the validation process."

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