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Original Investigation
October 05, 2016

Exploring the Industry-Dermatologist Financial RelationshipInsight From the Open Payment Data

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York
  • 2Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 3Department of Dermatology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Dermatol. Published online October 5, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.3037

Importance  Significant ties exist between clinicians and industry. Little is known about the characteristics of industry payments to dermatologists.

Objective  To analyze the nature and extent of industry payments to dermatologists.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This was a retrospective review using the publicly available Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Sunshine Act Open Payment database. Data were downloaded from the publically available CMS website under General Payment and Research Payment data sets. All payments to dermatologists from companies making products reimbursed by a government-run health program were reviewed.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Mean, median, and range of payments made, including quantity and total sum of payments, per clinician. Total payments and number of transactions per category of payment, geographic region, and payment source were also assessed.

Results  A total of 8333 dermatologists received 208 613 payments totaling more than $34 million. The median total payment per dermatologist was $298 with an interquartile range of $99 to $844. The top 10% of dermatologists (n = 833) received more than $31.2 million, 90% of the total payments. The top 1% each (n = 83) received at least $93 622 and accounted for 44% of total payments. While 83% of payment entries were for food and beverage, they accounted for only 13% of total amount of payments. Speaker fees (31.7%), consulting fees (21.6%), and research payments (16.5%) comprised 69.8% of total payment amount. The top 15 companies were all pharmaceutical manufacturers and paid dermatologists $28.7 million, representing 81% of total disbursement.

Conclusions and Relevance  Dermatologists received substantial payments from the pharmaceutical industry. The nature and amount of payments varied widely. The impact of the data on patient care, physicians practice patterns, and patient perception of physicians is unclear.