January 23, 2016

Doctors That Receive Money from Manufacturers

Why researchers only researched the last five months of 2013 for this is somewhat of a puzzle unless they also had an agenda. Internal medicine and orthopedic surgery received the greatest total value at $111 million each. The highest proportion of physicians receiving payments was seen among cardiovascular and neurosurgical specialists.

Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD, principal investigator and assistant professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine stated, "Physicians across the nation have entered into an era of transparency. This analysis shows the wide variability of industry payments across specialties. The research sheds light on how physicians are engaging with medical companies, and this information can be used by patients, policymakers and other stakeholders when making health care decisions."

The study found that medical specialties requiring a higher level of intervention, such as gastroenterology, cardiology and orthopedics, received higher payments - likely because of the dependence on devices used by the physicians for procedures, such as stents or hip replacements.”

"During the last few decades, physicians have become much more engaged in the development of novel drugs and devices, which is critical to bringing innovation to patients," said Hattangadi-Gluth, chief of the central nervous system tumor service at UC San Diego Health. "Certain specialties, like surgery, may require more research and involvement in device development, resulting in higher royalty and license payments. Our study not only identified how industry payments are distributed by specialty, it also helped put those payments in context."

When you use the search tool on the open payments site, you will enter the first and last name of the physician and you will be able to see industry payments to the individual listed by company, nature of payment, date, and amount. Using this information, the determination needs to be made if the financial relationship creates a conflict of interest or are they appropriate to ensure the highest quality of care and patient trust.

Hattangadi-Gluth said next steps include looking at whether an industry payment affects physician decision-making and treatment utilization. We don't know yet whether these financial relationships are harmful in any way. It is also unclear whether transparency will impede valuable collaborations and the pace of innovation. There are many positive consequences of physician-industry relationships, so it is important that they be interpreted properly."

This is probably the hardest decision for the patient to determine. I have been very careful to ask one or two questions of the doctor and base my decision on how the doctor answers. For one doctor, I knew he had been the one that developed the device and if figured that payment was a royalty, and when he answered the explanation fit. For the second question, he was a little more evasive, so I asked another question about having a conflict of interest. Finally, he admitted that it was and he received a payment for every time the company was reimbursed for the device.

No comments: