The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Open Payments program implements Section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act requiring medical product manufacturers to report payments made to physicians or teaching hospitals as well as ownership or investment interests held by physicians in the manufacturer. To determine the characteristics and distribution of these industry payments by specialty, we analyzed physician payments made between August 1, 2013, and December 31, 2013, that were publicly disclosed by Open Payments. We compared payments between specialty types (medical, surgical, and other) and across specialties within each type using the Pearson χ(2) test and the Kruskal-Wallis test. The number of physicians receiving payments was compared with the total number of active physicians in each specialty in 2012. We also analyzed physician ownership interests. Allopathic and osteopathic physicians received 2.43 million payments totaling $475 million. General payments represented 90% of payments by total value ($430 million) (per-physician median, $100; interquartile range [IQR], $31-$273; mean ± SD, $1407±$23,766), with the remaining 10% ($45 million) as research payments (median, $2365; IQR, $592-$8550; mean ± SD, $12,880±$66,743). Physicians most likely to receive general payments were cardiovascular specialists (78%) and neurosurgeons (77%); those least likely were pathologists (9%). Reports of ownership interest in reporting entities included $310 million in dollar amount invested and $447 million in value of interest held by 2093 physicians. In conclusion, the distribution and characteristics of industry payments to physicians varied widely by specialty during the first half-year of Open Payments reporting.
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