UPDATED: CMS' Open Payments Site Goes Live

Ready or not, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is releasing its Open Payments database of physicians' financial interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Ready or not, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is releasing its Open Payments database of physicians’ financial interactions with pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

CMS on Tuesday released its first batch of data, despite concerns from physician groups and the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

The website came about as the result of 2010’s Physician Payments Sunshine Act. The idea was to allow the public to find out if their doctor — or any doctor – received speaking fees, grants, trips or other payments from drug and device companies.

Physicians were given early access to the database in order to locate and flag potential errors in the data. However, the website used to facilitate the fact-checking was plagued by problems, causing concern in many quarters that physicians might not have enough opportunity to verify the data before it became public.

Earlier this month, the American Medical Association called for a delay in the publication of the data, saying the process was too flawed to ensure accuracy by Sept. 30.

“If the government releases incorrect information to the public, it can lead to misinterpretations, harm reputations and cause patients to question their trust in their physicians,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, at the time. “Inaccurate data can also unfairly impact physicians’ ability to attain or keep research grants and other employment opportunities that require disclosure.”

However, advocates of the database say it’s important to create transparency as quickly as possible.

In a statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), one of the co-authors of the legislation — said he’s confident the database will fulfill its purpose.

“The roll-out won’t be perfect,” he said. “Some information will be withheld because CMS wanted to protect doctors from a small amount of reports that might be imprecise. But as the information is refined, the data will improve. It will become more complete as doctors, drug and device companies, and CMS work to update and refine the information.”

The data can be accessed here.