At ASCO Annual Meeting, a Candid Look at Conflict of Interest

Cynthia J. Gordon, PhD


July 08, 2015

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Although the launch of the Open Payments website promised transparency by revealing the financial relationships between industry and physicians. Instead, what CMS and the public got was "confusion" and "puzzlement" on behalf of everyone involved—patients, physicians, and industry—Dr Gaynor said.

Physicians with the same name had data misattributed to them, researchers were misidentified, and some data submitted by pharmaceutical companies simply disappeared. CMS responded by asking companies to resubmit as much identifiable, individual-level data as possible, while providing the rest of the data in a large, unidentifiable chunk. As a result, about 90% of the data in the research reports were unidentifiable, and in the general reports, about one half of the data were not attributable to a specific covered recipient, according to Dr Gaynor.

For physicians, discrepancies in the data caused a lot of distress. In some cases, some physicians in the same office had transactions involving large amounts of money whereas others did not, leading to scrutiny for some but not for others.

And for patients, the lack of context of these payments made the data very difficult to interpret. Some covered recipients received what appeared to be exorbitant TOVs—millions of dollars—leading to erroneous conclusions regarding physician/industry interactions, when in fact most of the money was earmarked for running a clinical trial or for patient care.

"The disclosure of the data did not meet CMS, industry, physician—or really anyone's—expectations," Dr Gaynor said.


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