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Will a New Website Empower Patients to Ask Their Physicians About Financial Relationships With Industry?

The federal government recently unveiled a website called Open Payments that provides details about payments made by pharmaceutical and medical device companies to physicians. Initial news stories noted some interesting details. During the last 5 months of 2013, these companies paid physicians almost $3.5 billion in speaking and consulting fees, with some physicians earning more than half a million dollars in that period.

The Open Payments site was immediately criticized for multiple problems, including the difficulty people have in navigating the site and the fact that there might be misattribution of some payments. Government officials said they plan to improve the site, and later introduced a search tool, making it easier for consumers to find their physician. Meanwhile, drug and device manufacturers and physician groups continue to complain that patients might misinterpret the data on the site.

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