Drug and medical device companies paid about $6.49 billion to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals during 2014.
This is according to the federal government’s first full-year accounting of the breadth of industry financial ties with medical providers, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The tally consists of company payments to more than 600,000 doctors and 1,100 hospitals for services such as consulting, research, promotional speeches about drugs as well as the value of free meals given to doctors by sales reps touting various drugs and medical devices.
These figures come from a new federal government initiative to increase transparency under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Called the Sunshine Act, this federal law requires drug and medical device manufacturers to disclose most payments they make to doctors and teaching hospitals each year.
The records are compiled online by The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services into a searchable database known as Open Payments.
The push to have this information rose from concerns that doctors and hospitals are making healthcare decisions for patients based on relationships they have with these corporations that comp them with pricey meals or expensive vacations.
According to the information released, various entertainment costs included massages, payment for a training seminar at the Cayman Islands, food, beverage and lodging costs.
The Need for Change
This is information consumers absolutely need to know. Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have paid more than $200 million to doctors and teaching hospitals.
There are several questions we ask as product liability lawyers who represent victims of defective medical devices and dangerous drugs.
How can doctors and hospitals be objective in their assessment of patients’ healthcare needs if they are taking money from these large corporations? What incentive then do they have to put consumers’ well-being first?
We understand the need for research and clinical trials, but who draws the line between what types of payments are acceptable, or what are unacceptable? Who draws the ethical boundaries here?
It is important that consumers have access to this vital information so they can make educated choices about their care and treatment.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by defective drugs or medical equipment, please contact an experienced product liability attorney who will fight hard to protect your rights and hold negligent corporations accountable.