Does your doctor take drug company payments? Look them up!

Here's an article explaining stuff.

And here's where to look up your doc:

https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/


My old doctor prescribed a LOT of medication.  It got to the point where it seemed you couldn’t walk out of this office without a script in hand.  

My new doctor prefers to prescribe as little as possible.  He does write for scripts as needed, but tries to try everything at a lower dose, and when possible wants diet and lifestyle changes with the goal of being able to stop the meds

Here’s the thing, when I looked them up doc #1, the over prescriber, only received $700 for “all years.”  Doc #2 received over $3,000.  Although this database may be useful, I don’t think the data should be used alone to determine whether or not a doctor might be tempted to over prescribe medications 


I think the issue is more about what drugs a doctor might favor, rather than over prescribing.

I checked 3 of my doctors, they all received minimal amounts, like $200. That's not an issue for me. And I take a lot of meds.

But if I had a doctor who took thousands of dollars a year or more, I'd check to see where he was getting that from and whether it was related to which meds I was being prescribed.


Those smaller amounts are probably from times there was an inservice in the office and the drug rep split the cost evenly among all the docs present. 

I looked up my GP and he got $11 from Allergen. I'm thinking he grabbed lunch one day with that rep, or the rep brought lunch into his office and handed out samples and literature. 


Oh this regulation (the Sunshine Act) is a pretty good litmus test for a libertarian. If they think this regulation is good and necessary they need to go back to libertarian school.

To me it's a good example of the proper role of government regulation.


I see a specialist who is a big name nationally in his field. He owns and runs a research facility and has peer-reviewed publications out the wazoo. He received $1,706,000 in general payments in the six years covered by the web site (in addition to research funding of over $31 million). What do I do with this information?


kthnry said:

I see a specialist who is a big name nationally in his field. He owns and runs a research facility and has peer-reviewed publications out the wazoo. He received $1,706,000 in general payments in the six years covered by the web site (in addition to research funding of over $31 million). What do I do with this information?

 Where specifically is the money coming from?  Do you think that his treatment protocols are being influenced by the companies who pay him? If so, are you comfortable with that?


drummerboy said:

kthnry said:

I see a specialist who is a big name nationally in his field. He owns and runs a research facility and has peer-reviewed publications out the wazoo. He received $1,706,000 in general payments in the six years covered by the web site (in addition to research funding of over $31 million). What do I do with this information?

 Where specifically is the money coming from?  Do you think that his treatment protocols are being influenced by the companies who pay him? If so, are you comfortable with that?

 It's coming from a variety of pharmaceutical companies. I have no idea if his treatment protocols are being influenced by the payments. How would I know? Would you ask him? Would you believe his answer? Would you change to a different specialist who didn't get as many payments? Maybe he's getting all these payments because he's highly respected and in demand, which would justify high speaker fees and travel expenses. How do you find out?

I'm being seen on the research side, so this doesn't affect me directly, although I do sometimes wonder if I was assigned to a clinical trial based on what's best for me vs. what's the most profitable for the center. 


I mean, should this even be a need to look this up? Why is this even allowed?  Such a conflict of interest. No wonder our healthcare system is so broken 


I did a search for my PCP who retired recently.  I found his name and location but no indication of any payments.  Am I missing something or does this mean he never accepted any payments?  I know he got and handed out samples of medications he intended to prescribe anyway.  He had a number of low income patients and was very conscious of controlling drug costs for them.


No record because he's retired maybe? Dunno.

For my docs, the records were incomplete as there wasn't data for every year. Not sure what that means either. 


joan_crystal said:

I did a search for my PCP who retired recently.  I found his name and location but no indication of any payments.  Am I missing something or does this mean he never accepted any payments?  I know he got and handed out samples of medications he intended to prescribe anyway.  He had a number of low income patients and was very conscious of controlling drug costs for them.

 I don't think samples count. 

Drug companies and medical device manufacturers are obligated to report anything that would be considered a "transfer of value" to the physician or physician's business. Samples are intended to be given out for free so it's hard to pin down a value there. I suppose if a rep flooded one office with samples of popular cholesterol drugs it could make that office more attractive to patients. But that's a stretch.

My example before of buying coffee or lunch for a doctor because the rep needs 20 minutes to explain a new device or drug formulation is probably one of the more benign examples. 

Or maybe the rep pays for a dinner for several practitioners at a local restaurant so a speaker can present information about a new clinical trial publication relevant to their product. That dinner gets reported and would show up on the website. 

A lot of things that used to be commonplace have gone by the wayside. In the 90s I had a boss who hated when the Yankees were in the playoffs because lots of customers would ask their sales reps to get them tickets. That nonsense is gone. 

To your point, conandrob, there are lots of legitimate reasons a company might pay a physician to speak, but I agree it bears plenty of scrutiny. If I remember you work in the travel industry (I could be way off). Do agents ever receive gifts from say the Disney Resorts or different cruise lines? The obvious difference is in medicine the stakes are much higher and more personal.


This annoys me because it's another example of "empowering patients" to "take control" of their healthcare by giving them information that they aren't equipped to interpret. Another example is publishing the mortality rate for surgeons or specialty centers. Physicians who take on the most risky cases often have the highest mortality rates because they're working with the sickest patients. Public scoring may cause them to decline these cases. Who does that benefit? 


kthnry said:

This annoys me because it's another example of "empowering patients" to "take control" of their healthcare by giving them information that they aren't equipped to interpret. Another example is publishing the mortality rate for surgeons or specialty centers. Physicians who take on the most risky cases often have the highest mortality rates because they're working with the sickest patients. Public scoring may cause them to decline these cases. Who does that benefit? 

 I totally agree. Obviously doctors who perform more serious surgeries would probably have higher mortality rates. I would expect a heart surgeon’s rate to be different than a dermatologist’s. Also, I’m a lover of information for sure, but sometimes the general public is given access to something not mainstream that they don’t have the skill set to understand. Nor should they. Add in social media and it can quickly be a mess. Look at the anti-vaccine movement. Holy moly!! 


Heaven forbid we should have transparency concerning our health care.

And I'm pretty sure no one would compare mortality rates between a derm and heart surgeon.

And maybe color me stupid, but if I looked at mortality rates for heart surgeons with an eye towards being treated by them, you damn well better be sure that I'd choose one with a lower rate. Are you really going to go to a doctor who says "Yeah, a lot of my patients die, but you know, I only operate on the most serious cases."

It's hardly a perfect system, but more information is better, if you ask me.


A little information can be a dangerous thing.  As noted above, you need the entire picture to determine the value and best application of the information you have.  Most of us not only would lack access to complete information; but, would not even know which were the vital questions to ask in assembling the information we could access.  


drummerboy said:

And maybe color me stupid, but if I looked at mortality rates for heart surgeons with an eye towards being treated by them, you damn well better be sure that I'd choose one with a lower rate. Are you really going to go to a doctor who says "Yeah, a lot of my patients die, but you know, I only operate on the most serious cases."

So if you or your child had a rare, serious heart condition and you did the research - getting referrals and checking the literature - to determine the country's leading experts, only to call their offices and learn that they no longer perform that procedure, then ... what?

Sure, scoring is fine for routine procedures like hernias and joint replacements, but it can have unintended consequences.


mammabear said:

kthnry said:

This annoys me because it's another example of "empowering patients" to "take control" of their healthcare by giving them information that they aren't equipped to interpret. Another example is publishing the mortality rate for surgeons or specialty centers. Physicians who take on the most risky cases often have the highest mortality rates because they're working with the sickest patients. Public scoring may cause them to decline these cases. Who does that benefit? 

 I totally agree. Obviously doctors who perform more serious surgeries would probably have higher mortality rates. I would expect a heart surgeon’s rate to be different than a dermatologist’s. Also, I’m a lover of information for sure, but sometimes the general public is given access to something not mainstream that they don’t have the skill set to understand. Nor should they. Add in social media and it can quickly be a mess. Look at the anti-vaccine movement. Holy moly!! 

 To further expand on this drift, I’ve heard of people being turned away from fertility clinics because they’re highly likely to not conceive and would hurt the clinics success rate. 




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