By Aug. 27, physicians should review company gifts payments

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ open payments database, which lists payments or gifts from pharmaceutical or medical-device companies to doctors, goes public Sept. 30.

Physicians who received payments or gifts from pharmaceutical or medical-device companies in 2013 should give themselves several days before the Aug. 27 deadline to register and dispute any errors on the government’s open payments database.

This data will be published online Sept. 30. (The first reporting cycle includes only five months of payments from 2013, but future reports will include a full calendar year.)

The open payments database was initiated through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and biological substances to report certain payments and items to physicians and teaching hospitals every year. This includes any item valued over $10, including consulting fees; honoraria; gifts; compensation for food, travel, education and conferences; research funding; stock or stock options; investment income; and royalty and license payments. The database will also list research payments made to Stanford University under the principal investigator’s name.

The program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, is intended to create more transparency in industry-provider relations, helping consumers make informed decisions on physicians’ potential conflicts of interest.

Physicians have the right to review reports about them and challenge items they believe are false, inaccurate or misleading. If a physician disputes data reported by a company, and it isn’t resolved by the deadline, CMS will publish the amounts in the database with a “disputed” notation. Because there isn’t much time to correct errors before the data goes public and because the program’s identity verification of physicians can take several days, it’s recommended that physicians start this process well before the Aug. 27 deadline. 

Following are three useful web pages for learning about the database and how to get access to it: 

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