Life Science Compliance Update

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October 01, 2014

Physician Payments Sunshine Act: Breakdown of Research Payments, Including List of Top Manufacturers


CMS published the Open Payments database yesterday. Once we were able to download and analyze the full Excel spreadsheets (this took a while), we found that research payments from manufacturers to teaching hospitals and physicians equaled close to $1.5 billion. While about 90 percent of this research data was de-identified, so as to cover the recipient of these payments, the information provides a useful look into the collaborations between companies and physicians and teaching hospitals.

The de-identified data actually lessens the potential for erroneous stigma surrounding research grants that actually go towards large staffs, costly drugs, and expensive clinical trials. Click here for an article by academics at Johns Hopkins who were especially concerned about the reporting of donated study drugs. “Donated drugs are intended for use by patients and do not provide direct monetary value to physician-investigators. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act rules cloud this critical distinction,” they wrote. 

John Wilkenfeld at Potomac River Partners reminded us that research payments have the potential for delay of publication for up to four years.  This figure is going to be significantly larger than $1.5B in four years or the year products are approved by the FDA. With some exceptions, the reported de-identified data is mostly limited to Phase IV research or studies of products already on the market. 


Manufacturer Research Payments

We provide a breakdown by manufacturer total payments, the number of payments, and the average payment total. As the chart indicates, according to the current Open Payments data, Bristol-Myers Squibb spent much more than its competitors in from August to December 2013. It will be interesting to chart these research expenditures going forward. 

Top Manufacturer By Research Payment

View the entire list of over 400 manufacturers here.


Manufacturer Payments By State of Physician/Teaching Hospital

Additionally, we were interested in looking at states where pharmaceutical companies are investing in research activities. New Jersey, surprisingly was down at 19. 

Research Payments By State

(Click on the image for a clearer view, and here for the full list.)

Context for Research Payments

The collaboration between physicians and companies remains a core tenant in the development and improvement of drugs and new technologies, and policies should foster, rather than deter, the communication and education required to advance the practice of medicine.

CMS offered a page of explanation about their payment data. “Just because there are financial ties doesn't mean that anyone is doing anything wrong,” CMS wrote. “Transparency will shed light on the nature and extent of these financial relationships and will hopefully discourage the development of inappropriate relationships.”

We are hopeful that the Sunshine Act will allow the public to see just how important these relationships are in the development of medicines and devices for heart attacks, strokes, multiple sclerosis, cancers and infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepititis C, and Ebola. This extensive research data demonstrates that companies are investing a lot today in order to find the breakthroughs of tomorrow. 

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