This article originally appeared on ProPublica’s website.
The government’s new website on drug and device company ties to doctors will be incomplete and may be misleading – for now.
The government’s release today of a trove of data detailing drug and device companies’ payments to doctors has been widely hailed as a milestone for transparency. But it is also something else: a very limited window into the billions in industry spending. Before you dive in and search for a specific doctor, here are five caveats to keep in mind: Continue reading
Curtis Brainard of Columbia Journalism Review reminds reporters that their input is needed on the design of a federal database that will track payments from drug and device makers to doctors.
Investigations and databases, such as Dollars for Docs by Propublica, have revealed payments to doctors who had been accused of professional misconduct, had been disciplined or lacked credentials. Researchers have found evidence that payments can influence doctors’ treatment decisions (PDF).
Provisions in the Affordable Care Act mean that companies will have to report such payments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which will post the data on a public website. CMS has asked for “comments on how to structure this Web site for ultimate usability.”
There are a number of ways to submit your comments, detailed in this Federal Register announcement. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 17.