On Tuesday, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services published the federal Open Payments database for 2014 detailing payments between medical device companies and doctors and hospitals. According to Star Tribune, this is the second year that such data has been published. The data was released under the Open Payments program, which was created by the Sunshine Act provisions of the Affordable Care Act in an effort to create transparency and prevent large companies like Medtronic from using financial incentive to influence medicine.
According to Star Tribune, data looking at payments $1 million or greater showed that Medtronic PLC and St. Jude Medical paid a combined $81 million to eight doctors across the country. The database indicates that Minnesota device makers paid over $211 million to doctors and hospitals for reasons not related to research. For the first time, data revealed 99 percent of submitted payment information. Last year’s data redacted more than a third of the information.
The database included over a dozen categories of payments, including consulting payments, gifts and honoraria, royalties, stock dividends, and travel and dining. The data showed that in a single year, payments totaling $6.49 billion were made to over 600,000 doctors and 1,100 hospitals.
In June, the University of Minnesota banned many of the types of payments described in the database; the concern is that these payments may create inflicts of interests in research. “What you’re trying to do is use transparency to make certain that there is no conflict of interest,” saod former Gov. Arne Carlson of the data release, according to Star Tribune. “The moment you have a direct relationship between a drug company and whoever is going to facilitate the [research] study, you are going to have a built-in bias.”