Industry Payments to Pain Medicine Physicians: An Analysis of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Open Payments Program

Vasudha Goel, Amol M. Patwardhan, Mohab Ibrahim, Yan Yang, Eellan Sivanesan, Ratan K. Banik, Clarence Shannon, Hariharan Shankar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To analyze industry payments to pain medicine physicians in the United States. Design: Retrospective cohort study using publicly available databases. Subjects: The study includes U.S. pain medicine physicians (PMPs) with reports in the Open Payments program from 2013 to 2018. Methods: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Open Payments program was analyzed for general, investment, and ownership payments to PMPs reported from 2013 to 2018. The nature, type, and geographic variation of payments were analyzed. Results: The main findings of the study are as follows: 1) Payments made to PMPs constituted a small proportion of the payments made to all physicians in the United States, and the number of transactions and the total dollar amount seem to have decreased from 2016 to 2018. 2) The median number of payments among physicians with reported payments was around 4 (interquartile range: 18), and the majority of them were under $20. 3) The majority of payments were for in-kind items and services (85%) and were made for food and beverages (91%), travel and lodging (5.5%). 4) Some of the ownership and investment interest payments exceeded $500,000. 5) The top five drugs associated with physician payments included medications with opioids. 6) A very small minority of payments were made for entertainment or gifts. 7) A third of PMPs with reports had payments reported under more than one taxonomy. Conclusions: Overall payments made to PMPs seem to be decreasing since 2016. The majority of the payments are made for the food, beverage, and travel categories. Public and physician awareness of the Open Payments system reports is essential to promote transparency and to minimize adverse effects of financial relationships on patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1376-1386
Number of pages11
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Chronic Pain
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Physicians'
  • Practice Patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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