Government Open Payments Site Promises to Reveal Drug Lobbying
As an example of the Federal Government’s promise of transparency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently unveiled the Open Payment website. Spokesmen push the archive as a comprehensive accounting of any and all money transferred from pharmaceutical drug companies and medical suppliers to doctors, physicians, and hospitals nationwide. The promise of the program is to highlight how money flows from one to the other and has already raised some eyebrows.
While the data is incomplete and certain companies are somehow unable to disclose where certain payments went, there are some clear conclusions already visible in the data. A total of $3.5 billion made it into the pockets of doctors and hospitals in just a 5 month period of 2013. One such medical manufacturing and pharmaceutical firm (Roche Holdings Genentech) paid $122.5 million to the City of Hope medical center in Duerte, CA. The money is said to cover research programs that result in profitable medications and the City of Hope medical center gets royalties on these patents.
Doctors and physicians were paid millions of dollars in speaking fees and travel to promote the drugs from certain companies. These findings are calling into question the motivations of doctors to prescribe these profitable pills and serums. When profits (BIG profits) are involved, there is almost always something shady going on and largely not in the public interest.
Where this new data transparency initiative takes us in the coming 3-5 years will be interesting to watch. As more data is compiled and loopholes are closed, the research and media outlets that are sifting through the data will unearth new connections in big Medica and we will be able to follow the money. It’s already widely known that this relationship between big business and our public health is toxic but there’s not much we can do about it without the data right in front of us.
If you hear any interesting or peculiar findings, let us know in the comments.