Maryland's hospitals and doctors took in more than $7.6 million in payments for research, speeches and other work from drug and device manufacturers in 2014, according to federal authorities who have been releasing payment data periodically.
The money is a share of about $6.5 billion in funds paid to U.S. hospitals from 1,444 companies, data supplied by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows.
The payments are up from the $3.43 billion from 1,347 companies in 2013, the first year of the Open Payments program,
“Consumer access to information is a key component of delivery system reform and making the health care system perform better,” said Andy Slavitt, acting CMS administrator, in a statement. “This is part of our larger effort to open up the health care system to consumers by providing more information to help in their decision making.”
The Open Payments program was created by the Affordable Care Act and requires an accounting of money the companies pay for honoraria or research or other investments.
In Maryland, 17 hospitals took in the money, with St. Agnes Hospital getting the biggest share at $2.61 million in 110 separate payments. The University of Maryland Medical System received the second most funding at $2.59 million in 234 payments. Sinai Hospital was third with with almost $660,000 in 133 payments.
"Saint Agnes participates in a variety of different clinical trials/research, giving our patients access to some of the most modern treatment methods,” said Dr. Carole B. Miller, director of the Cancer Insitute at St. Agnes. “The time period reviewed included funding from one pharmaceutical company for two 5-year clinical trials with one drug, which was approved by the FDA two years into the studies. Once approved by the FDA, costs increase which explains a great deal of the funding reported. The cost of the drug was realized as a cash equivalent to the hospital, but there was no financial benefit to the hospital and the hospital did not charge the patient for the drugs. The drug costs were strictly pass through."
The American Medical Association said in a statement that it was "committed to transparency," but decried the data as unverified and potentially harmful to doctor-patient relationships.
“While the AMA strongly opposes inappropriate, unethical interactions between physicians and industry, there are relationships that can help drive innovation in patient care and provide significant resources for professional medical education that ultimately benefits patients," the statement said.