Click on image for an enlarged view.

On September 30, 2014, CMS published data records containing 4.4 million payments valued at nearly $3.7 billion in payments and transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals in the last five months of Calendar Year 2013. This includes ownership or investment interests in applicable manufacturers and GPOs (group purchasing organizations) held by physicians or their immediate members, in addition to payments provided for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, or travel.

These and other data are available to peruse using the “Data Explorer” tool on the website.

I recently used this tool to find out more about the types of payments big pharma companies make to physicians. I only looked at payments for items/services unrelated to research and ownership of stock; i.e., marketing-related items/services, which include

  • Food and Beverage
  • Consulting
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Education
  • Grants
  • Honoraria
  • Speaker Fees
  • Travel and Lodging

Unfortunately, I could not download the entire database because the number of records exceeds Excel’s limit. Instead, I downloaded data for six specific pharma companies to perform my analysis. Although the result may not be representative of the entire drug industry, it does show how different companies dole out the dough to docs.

*The six companies I chose for my analysis include several with the highest yearly global sales:

  1. Novartis
  2. Pfizer
  3. Johnson & Johnson
  4. GSK
  5. Astrazeneca
  6. Janssen Pharmaceuticals
The pie chart shown at the top of this post represents the average percent spent in several categories by these 6 companies. “Other” includes education, honoraria, grants, and charitable contributions. Keep in mind that these are payments made in the last 5 months of 2013.

How do the spending patterns differ for the six companies? Here’s a chart to help you visualize the differences:

Click on image for an enlarged view.

Here’s the table, which also shows the total amount money spent on these activities for each company:

Click on image for an enlarged view.

These six companies accounted for $62.7 million in spending. This is just a small slice of the $3.7 billion reported by CMS.