Urology Payments from Industry in the Sunshine Act

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Payments to practitioners from drug and device manufacturers or group purchasing organizations are reported in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) databases as a part of the Sunshine Act. Characterizing these payments is a necessary step in identifying conflicts of interest and the influence of payments on practice patterns, if any. Payments have never been analyzed in detail among urologists.


We reviewed the most recent CMS Open Payments database for the full year 2014, released on June 30, 2015. Urology practitioners were extracted and the database was analyzed for number of total payments, total dollar value of payments, mean, median and number of physicians, number of manufacturers, and number of drugs/biologicals. Data were further categorized according to provider specialty, form of payment, nature of payment, practitioner ownership and dispute status.


Payments totaled $32,450,382. Practitioner payments were unevenly distributed, with a median payment of $15. The majority of payments were in the form of food and beverage. Female pelvic medicine practitioners received the highest payments out of the provider specialties. The largest categorical difference from the median was in the form of stock, options and other ownership interests ($24,050). Ownership status and disputed payments were associated with payment values above median values ($400 and $61, respectively).


There are major disparities in industry payments to urology practitioners. Whether this influences practice patterns remains to be seen, although identifying categorical differences in payments is an important first step in the process.

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