Doctors And Hospitals Got At Least $3.5 Billion From Industry In Just Five Months

Julia Belluz | Vox | September 30, 2014

By now, it's no surprise that medicine operates under the influence of industry. For decades, physicians and pharmaceutical companies have enjoyed cozy relationships. Though these links have led to the discovery of life-saving drugs and devices, they have also bred harmful conflicts of interest. Lawsuits in recent years revealed that doctors' relationships with industry can alter their prescribing practices and decision-making for the worse, and pharmaceutical companies have paid out billions of dollars in fines for fraudulent marketing practices.

These relationships have been mostly cloaked in secrecy and hidden from view — until today. This afternoon a government-run Open Payments website went live, detailing 4.4 million payments to more than 546,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals. In total, they show that industry paid doctors and hospitals at least $3.5 billion in only the last five months of 2013.

Here's what you need to know:

1) The Sunshine Act makes it possible to see which Big Pharma and medical device companies pay your doctor

The Sunshine law is part of the Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in 2010...