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May 2, 2017

Physicians, Industry Payments for Food and Beverages, and Drug Prescribing

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
JAMA. 2017;317(17):1753-1754. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.2477

In 2015, the pharmaceutical industry and other health care companies reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services through the Open Payments program a total of $235 million in food and beverage payments to physicians, accounting for approximately 12% of general payments.1 General payments include royalties and licenses, consulting, services other than consulting, travel and lodging, and serving as faculty in accredited and unaccredited education programs. There are about 850 000 active physicians in the United States. Of 616 567 physicians in the United States with any type of general payment in 2015, 589 042 (95.5%) received food and beverage payments, with a total mean value per physician of $400 and a median value of $138.1 Although the median value of each food and beverage payment is modest, these are by far the most frequent types of gifts and payments that physicians receive from industry, apparently now supplanting the branded black bags, pens, mugs, and other tchotchkes of yore.2