Today, the DPH released the eagerly-anticipated data containing payments made to Massachusetts prescribers by drug and device companies. Payment disclosure is an essential part of Massachusetts' overall efforts to curb health care costs and guarantee the ethical delivery of health services. Using this data, all health care stakeholders, including consumers, will gain a better perspective of the influence industry representatives may or may not have on their health care providers.
Under the law, certain drug and device manufacturers are required to disclose certain payments made to “covered recipients,” including hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacists, health benefit plan administrators, and health care practitioners. This includes payments for product training, compensation for serving as faculty at a continuing education or participation on a Speaker’s Bureau, and grants. However, this does not include payments for genuine research and clinical trials, and rebates and discounts.
While other states have come out with data, Massachusetts’ is the first database that is fully searchable by provider name, company name, or payment category, and is the nation's most comprehensive. Consumers will now have the ability to see if their doctor or hospital received any payments from the industry fostering a discussion between them and their provider.
We thank the DPH for working hard to make such comprehensive disclosure data available for consumers and the public and look forward to future data that will no doubt empower consumers in making their health care decisions.
There's a lot to sift through, but here are the early headlines:
- The top 10 reporting manufacturer’s reported spending over $14 million on prescribers in 2009. Total payments approached $36 million.
- The drug and device companies spent nearly $400,000 on "marketing studies," which are research studies developed solely for marketing purposes and not to test efficacy or quality of the drug or device.
- Several MA hospitals do not receive any reportable money or gifts including Cambridge Health Alliance, Quincy Hospital, South Shore Hospital and Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
- The data show that it isn’t just doctors who are getting gifts and payments. Several RNs, LPNs, NPs, Pharmacists, PAs and other prescribers are listed, showing that the industry is expending resources on every person who can prescribe, not just physicians.
The data are available in various formats, and some of the options are buried a bit deep. You can download the entire database categorized by Recipient’s Name, ID, License Type, License Number, Manufacturer’s Name, ID, Address, City, State, Zip Code, Payment Category, Number of Events, and Amount Paid. There's also searchable databases, either by Recipient Name or by Manufacturer.
The site also has lots of prepared reports, including the Top 20 Manufacturers (pdf) (numbers 1-2-3 are Boston Scientific - $2.5 million; Eli Lilly - $1.7 million; and Ethicon Endo-Surgery - $1.6 million), and the top 20 physicians (numbers 1-2-3 collected $194,000, $189,000 and $187,000 in round numbers - not too shabby).
Many, many other reports are available, most in both pdf and excel format. The data will be treasure trove for the researchers and journalists who follow this issue, like the ProPublica consortium.