Background: The Open Payments Program (OPP) mandates that biomedical companies disclose physician payments. Little is known about the spending characteristics of leading industry spenders.
Methods: Using data from the OPP, we aggregated payments to individual cardiologists from 2014-2016, and subsequently studied payment characteristics of 10 leading companies.
Results: From 2014-2016, payments totaling $520,167,233 were made to 30,372 cardiologists. The top 10 companies made 60% of total payments ($312,661,029). The companies with highest payment amounts were St. Jude (18%), Medtronic vascular (16%), Janssen pharmaceuticals (13%), Boston Scientific (12%), AstraZenca (11%), Pfizer (7%), Topera (7%), Bristol-Meyer Squibb (6%), Amgen (5%), and Novartis (5%). Majority of the payments were made for services such as speaking at dinner talks (59% of total payments). Other forms of payments were for food and beverages (12%), travel and lodging (10%), ownership interests (8%) and consulting fees (8%). Spending patterns of pharmaceutical companies were similar. Device manufactures such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic had a relatively higher proportion of spending on travel and ownership fees.
Conclusion: Few major companies made a significant proportion of payments to cardiologists. Services such as speaking at dinner talks were the largest areas of spending. The impact of the OPP on the patterns of industry spending remains to be seen.