Drug Industry Concerned About CMS Decision To Remove Data From Open Payments System

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By Bronwyn Mixter

Aug. 27 — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Aug. 26 asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to clarify the reporting regulations under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act after the agency decided to remove one-third of the data from the Open Payments system.

PhRMA also asked for more information about why the CMS made the decision to remove the data from the system.

The Open Payments program, which was created by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, requires manufacturers of drugs, devices and other medical supplies and group purchasing organizations to report certain payments to physicians or teaching hospitals. Payment data for the last five months of 2013 were due to the CMS June 30, and the data will be available to the public no later than Sept. 30.

On Aug. 15, the CMS announced that the Open Payments system was back online after a 12-day suspension. The system was taken offline after the CMS found that manufacturers and group purchasing organizations had submitted intermingled data, such as the wrong state license number of national provider identifier (NPI), for physicians with the same first and last names. On Aug. 18, a CMS spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg BNA that one-third of all payment data contained in the system was removed because of the problem.

PhRMA's Concerns

“PhRMA supports the Sunshine Act and, since the law was enacted, biopharmaceutical companies have worked diligently to ensure that their data is accurate and submitted in a timely manner so that physicians have sufficient time to review and provide feedback,” John Murphy, assistant general counsel for PhRMA, said in a statement. “An analysis of the data that CMS removed from the database found that PhRMA member companies submitted their data in a manner consistent with the reporting rules outlined by the agency. To reconcile the existing data issues, additional guidance from CMS is needed clarifying the reporting regulations.”

Murphy also asked the CMS to provide additional transparency around the decision to remove one-third of the data from the site.

“Our industry is committed to working with CMS and the physician community to ensure that all data is accurate, and that proper context is provided to explain how collaborations between companies and physicians can improve patient care and help promote medical innovation,” Murphy said.

The Open Payments program has been criticized by physicians because of problems registering with the system as well as the overall accuracy of the data.

For example, the American Medical Association, along with over 110 state medical groups and industry associations, sent a letter to the CMS Aug. 5 asking the agency to delay the public release of Open Payments data from Sept. 30 to March 31, 2015.

The CMS didn't respond to a request for comment by Bloomberg BNA.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bronwyn Mixter in Washington at bmixter@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brian Broderick at bbroderick@bna.com

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