Pew Welcomes First Release of Physician-Industry Data

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Pew Welcomes First Release of Physician-Industry Data

WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts commended the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today for the first release of data on its Open Payments website

Authorized by Congress in 2010, the website creates transparency by publicly reporting payments and gifts made by drug companies and medical device manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals. Allan Coukell, Pew’s senior director of drugs and medical devices, issued this statement: 

"This is a significant accomplishment.  The first release of data discloses some $3.5 billion in payments from industry to doctors and hospitals over a five-month period. While not all individual payment information has yet been published, this nevertheless represents a new level of transparency that will help inform patients and the public. 

"Some financial relationships between manufacturers and doctors are necessary and beneficial, and reflect the collaboration between medicine and industry that generates new knowledge and advances patient care. Other gifts and payments—those associated with marketing—add expense to already unsustainable health care costs and create conflicts of interest. 

"The release of this data is long-awaited, and an important first step, but the job is not done.  The website is not yet complete or fully functional.  Inevitably, in the release of a data set this large, errors and technical problems will occur.  We anticipate that CMS will continue to add data, functionality, and contextual information to the site, making it more user-friendly for doctors, companies, and patients.  Now that the website has launched, and the public and policymakers can see the data, stakeholders can work with CMS to fix any problems as quickly as possible. 

"The Pew Charitable Trusts has been working—along with leading drug and medical device companies, numerous consumer organizations, and leaders from within the medical profession—in support of this transparency since 2007. We congratulate Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for his leadership as a champion of the original legislation in the Senate, along with his co-sponsor, former Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who has been a key advocate. We look forward to further improvements to the website.” 

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