Background: Industry payments made to physicians and hospitals are publicly disclosed through the Open Payments Program. The objective of this study was to analyze the trends of payments to cardiologists in the United States for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Methods: Descriptive analysis was performed on the non-research, non-ownership Open Payments data. The Gini index, a method to determine income dispersion, was calculated.
Results: Cardiologists received a total of $187,180,369 for 2014, $173,309,019 for 2015, and $159,677,844 for 2016. The mean annual payment per cardiologist was $7,571 for 2014, $6,769 for 2015, and $6,309 for 2016 (p<0.001). The number of cardiologists who received annual payments of ≥$10,000 was 2,408 for 2014, 2,696 for 2015, and 2,701 for 2016. The Gini index was 0.96 for 2014, 0.91 for 2015 and 0.90 for 2016. Xarelto, Eliquis and Brilinta were associated with the highest amount of payments in all three years. Though the food and beverage category constituted the highest number of payments made to cardiologists, the highest amount of payments were made for services such as speaking at industry-sponsored drug talks at local restaurants.
Conclusion: The mean annual payment amount per cardiologist decreased from 2014 to 2016; only a few cardiologists were receiving payments of a significant value every year. Further studies are needed to explore the impact of industry-cardiologist relationships on patient care.