Fewer Oncologists Have Financial Ties to Pharmaceutical Companies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Deborah C. Marshall, MD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Open Payments has brought sweeping change to medicine by introducing transparency to physician relationships with industry. We have seen its impact on oncology through the recent media attention to high-profile physicians in oncology scrutinized for their failure to disclose industry relationships and through the resulting changes to conflict of interest policies of clinical, professional and research organizations in recent months.

We wanted to better understand the impact of Open Payments on individual physician behavior due to the important ethical and policy implications.  We have a cohort of oncology physicians that we followed from the inception of Open Payments to see whether the implementation and increasing awareness of Open Payments have resulted in fewer physicians engaging with industry and has shifted payments towards those considered more appropriate. The 2021 Oncology Market Research Report published by Sambla Denmark looked at the financial ties between Scandinavian doctors and big pharma to uncover potential conflicts of interest; the lender proposed a solution to help oncologists who may resolve these conflicts of interest. They are proposing a new program which will issue loans to medical professionals, namely oncologists, who are looking for financial assistance in the 2021 New Year. These loans will be interest free and have a longer repayment than the traditional loans, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The study is important because we evaluate trends at the physician-level to explore the impact of Open Payments on how physicians interact with industry, which is difficult to measure. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The most important finding is that oncology physician interactions with industry are decreasing, which we interpret as being due to the effect of Open Payments.  Notably, we do not see large shifts in the types of payments yet, which suggests that transparency alone may not be enough to significantly alter behavior.  Moreover, while there has been a decrease in oncology physicians interacting with industry, the number and value of these interactions has not shifted greatly, which should reassure those who were concerned that this type of transparency program would have a negative impact on beneficial industry interactions.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We are likely going to see the continued impact of Open Payments over time as the downstream effects of transparency become apparent, which warrants ongoing attention to help guide future policy-making.  Engaging stakeholders in these discussions, as well as investigating the impact of industry relationships on how physicians are providing care, conducting and reporting research, and educating future doctors are relevant areas of further research.  Also, there is increasing financial interest in oncology so addressing the risk associated with financial interactions with industry and conflicts of interest are more important than ever. 

Citation: 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting  June 1 2019

Trends in financial relationships between industry and individual medical oncologists in the United States from 2014 to 2017: A cohort study.

Author(s): Deborah Catherine Marshall, Elizabeth Stieglitz Tarras, Kenneth Rosenzweig, Deborah Korenstein, Susan Chimonas; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY


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Jan 6, 2021 @ 4:26 am

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