The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payments report revealed on Tuesday that doctors and teaching hospitals in the U.S. have received about $6.5 billion for the services they have provided to drug and medical device companies in 2014.
Around 80 percent of the total spending went to physicians whose prescribing practices affect the fortunes of these companies. Doctors are also often recruited by pharmaceutical companies for clinical trials and other research on drugs.
The report, which was released for the second year, identified 11.4 million payments that were made to 607,000 doctors and over 1,100 hospitals that were made by 1,444 companies.
The Open Payment program was formed under the Obama administration's health care law to improve transparency, which was prompted by concerns that the prescribing habits and choices of healthcare providers could be affected by payments they receive from drug and medical device companies.
The program requires pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to report the payments they have made for healthcare providers such as those made for research grants and speaking engagements that involve their products.
The report likewise allows individuals to know the payment drug companies have made to their physician. Unlike the initial version of the database that was released last year, this one is easier for consumers who want to look up their own doctors.
U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. reported over $234.2 million in research payments and $53.3 million in general payments. Britain-based drug company GlaxoSmithKline Plc spent $36 million in general payments, which include costs for travel, lodging and food, and $177.1 million in research payments.
Pediatric geneticist John Diliberti, from Illinois, received the largest payment to an individual doctor by Pfizer, which gave him almost $447,000 in consulting fees last year.
As for medical device makers, Boston Scientific Corp spent $26.3 million in general payments and $18.4 million for research payments. Edwards Lifesciences Corp, on the other hand, reported $6.8 million in general payments and $44 million in research payments.
Biotechnology company Amgen Inc. spent about $23 million in general payments and $117 million in research payments with its single highest payment made to Gilbert Omenn, a Michigan-based genetics expert who received $282,336.
The country's top cancer research facility, MD Anderson Cancer Center, collected $12.4 million in general payments and $92.7 million in research payments. Top-rating cardiac care hospital Cleveland Clinic received $12.9 million in general payments and $25.1 million in research payments.
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