Drop in oncologists accepting industry payments from 2014 to 2019

From 2014 to 2019, there was a decrease in the number of medical oncologists accepting industry payments, but the per-physician payment value increased for high-value payments, according to a report published online Dec. 30 in JAMA Oncology.

Elizabeth S. Tarras, M.D., from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined trends in industry payments to medical oncologists from 2014 to 2019 and evaluated the impact of the Open Payments program on changes in the frequency or value of payments. Data were included from a retrospective, population-based, observational cohort study examining Open Payments reports of industry payments made to a cohort of licensed medical oncologists.

The researchers found that 15,585 medical oncologists received a total of 2.2 million industry payments with a total value of $509 million in 2014 to 2019. There was a decrease noted in the absolute number of oncologists receiving payments from 2014 to 2019, from 10,498 to 8,918 (−15.1 percent). There was a −3.2 percent yearly decrease in the annual per-physician payment value among those receiving less than $10,000 in aggregate, while an increase was seen for those receiving more than $10,000. The investigators observed increases in payments for consulting (13.7 percent) and for entertainment, meals, travel or lodging, and gifts (0.8 percent).

“These findings point to the limits of transparency and the need for additional measures to ensure integrity and public trust in oncological research and practice,” the authors write.