Government updates searchable database of industry payments to doctors and hospitals

Industries Associated Press

The government says drug and medical device companies paid doctors and leading hospitals nearly $6.5 billion last year, from research grants to free lunches and junkets.

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The latest update to the Open Payments database is part of an ongoing effort to highlight potential conflicts of interest in medicine. Unlike last year's initial version of the database, this one is much easier for consumers interested in looking up their own doctors to use.

Of the total payments, $3.2 billion represented research funding, about $2.6 billion was for miscellaneous items and about $700 million represented investments and ownership stakes.

Consumer groups say it's a step toward transparency. Doctors, hospital and industry worry that context will be lost.

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Online:

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Open Payments database: https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/