New CMS data reveals: Pharma and device companies paid $8.2 billion to doctors and hospitals last year

According to newly released data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), pharmaceutical and medical device companies paid over $8.2 Billion to doctors and hospitals in 2016, mostly for research and for things like enrolling patient into new clinical studies and carrying on those studies. The research payments also went to compensate doctors. $2.8 billion was spent on what CMS terms “general payments,” which includes expenses such as consulting fees, honoraria, entertainment or travel reimbursements. Another roughly $1 billion in payments were made related to ownership interests that doctors and their immediate family members have in industry companies. Novartis and Pfizer spent the most on research among big pharma, recording roughly $450 million and $430 million in payments, respectively. AstraZeneca spent $367 million in research payments, and U.S.-based Merck and Roche rounded out the top five.

CMS’ Open Payments program helps up the transparency around companies’ financial ties to doctors and hospitals, shedding light on the still eye-watering sums of money passing between industry and healthcare practitioners. The detailed data also highlights the complexity of multinational drug companies’ corporate structures. Pfizer, for instance, reported payments made through 14 different corporate entities. J&J and Roche each had more than ten reporting bodies, if the wholly owned subsidiaries of Janssen and Genentech, respectively, are included.Links to the data are here: ; Œ Œ Œ

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.