The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the 2015 Open Payments data, along with newly submitted and updated payment records for the 2013 and 2014 reporting periods yesterday, June 30, 2016.
As a broad overview, for Open Payments program year 2015, health care industry manufacturers reported $7.52 billion in payments and ownership and investment interests to physicians and teaching hospitals. This amount encompasses 11.9 million records attributable to 618,931 physicians and 1,116 teaching hospitals.
The Open Payments 2015 program year is the second full year of data available and allows the public the opportunity to explore trends in the health care industry manufacturers' payments to physicians and teaching hospitals for items and services such as food and beverage, travel, education, honoraria, and research.
In the 2015 program year, there was a notable shift toward charitable contributions and fewer payments to physicians in the form of honoraria and gifts. In terms of dollar value, companies increased charitable contributions on behalf of physicians by over 120%. Payments for food and beverage, travel and lodging, and consulting fees were either flat or slightly declined. Payments for honoraria declined by about fifty percent and by more than thirty percent for gifts.
Graph from CMS blog post 6-30-2016
To compare year to year progress of Open Payments Records and Reporting, see the below table, which highlights the number of records and covered entities for 2013, 2014, and 2015. For 2015 the number of companies reporting payments actually dropped by 7.8%, the number of physicians remained the same, the number of teaching hospitals dropped slightly probably due to consolidation in that industry. Total number of payments grew by less than .3% so no real differences.
The total payments made to physicians actually fell in two of the major categories, when comparing 2014 data to 2015 data, as outlined in the chart below.
When examining the same data for teaching hospitals, interestingly, the payments for research dropped a significant amount while general payments rose slightly. The drop in research could be caused by more payments selected for delay of reporting.
When combing through the data, it is easy to see companies that seem to have constant interactions with physicians. The below chart lays out the top ten global pharmaceutical companies, and looked at total spending for research and general databases. It is interesting to note that although there was little change year over year in the total amount spent, there were significant differences in spending on a company by company level.
A spokesman for Novartis, the manufacturer with the largest amount of reported payments $539 million with $513 million or 95% of their funding is in research in 2015, stated, these payments show our "ongoing strong commitment to R&D leading to one of the most robust pipelines in the industry." In addition "we consult doctors to get their insights and advice on diseases and products to help ensure we're developing medicines that meet the needs of patients. We facilitate programs where physicians who are experts in their fields meet with their peers to help educate them about the appropriate use of FDA-approved medicines; this helps physicians to make informed prescribing decisions with their patients." Novartis should be applauded for the 45% increase in research spending as opposed to being maligned by the media for having the largest total spend.
Changes in spending for GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis are likely a result of an asset swap the companies did in 2015.
Roche/Genentech is also highly ranked on the list but the vast majority of their $325,804,125 in general payments, ($306,412,967) goes towards a royalty settlement to City of Hope National Medical Center in California.
This recent release still concerns the American Medical Association (AMA), which noted that "continued data errors and registration challenges during the previous two years have thwarted many physicians from participating in the review and validation process" and that the "integrity goals of the Open Payments database will not be met as long as physician review is obstructed by a registration procedure that is confusing, time consuming and overly burdensome."
Shantanu Agrawal,MD the director of the CMS office of program integrity, wrote in a blog post, "the Open Payments Program does not identify whether financial relationships are beneficial or may indicate conflicts of interest."
Overall the media has shown very little interest in this years publication of the Open Payments Data. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in future years.