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U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals received $3.5 billion from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers in the last five months of 2013, according to the most extensive data trove on such payments ever made public. The payments, disclosed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday, include consulting and speaking fees, travel, meals, entertainment and research grants. The names of the recipients of about 40 percent of the payments reported by companies were withheld because CMS had concerns about data inconsistencies.
Some 546,000 individual providers including physicians, dentists and osteopaths and 1,360 teaching hospitals received 4.4 million separate payments from healthcare companies. The companies were required by President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law to disclose to CMS by March all payments of $10 or more made from August to December 2013. Even payments that physicians requested be sent to a charity were required to be reported. The American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician groups had asked CMS to delay the release of the data by six months, saying that errors could create a false impression about the influence of industry on individual doctors.