Industry payments to academic neurosurgeons in 2021: an open payments cross-sectional analysis

Luca H. Debs Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

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Seena Mansouri Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

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W. Luke Ledford Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

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William Woodall Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

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Fernando L. Vale Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

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OBJECTIVE

The Open Payments Program (OPP) was a database started in 2013 by the US government to report payments made by the medical device and pharmaceutical industry to physicians. Neurosurgery is a technologically advanced field that relies heavily on the latest innovations for complex treatment of its patient population. This study sought to explore the financial relationship between academic neurosurgeons and the industry.

METHODS

OPP data were reviewed for the year 2021 of all faculty neurosurgeons affiliated with a neurosurgery residency program. Trends related to general payments, research payments, associated research funding, ownership and investment interest, name of the companies making payments, monetary amount of payments per company, and number of payments per company were analyzed.

RESULTS

Industry payments to 1151 US academic neurosurgeons were reviewed. These neurosurgeons received $121.4 million in payments. Three hundred thirty-two companies made 18,466 payments. The average payment per neurosurgeon was approximately six-fold higher than that of all other physicians. Vascular and spine subspecialties received the highest payments. A higher proportion of research money was allocated to the Pacific division, while all other categories (including total amount) were higher in the Eastern US. Most financial contributions were made by a small number of companies.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgery has been rated by many as a field fueled by research, innovation, and technology. In 2021, academic neurosurgeons had a strong relationship with the medical device and pharmaceutical industry as reflected in the OPP data. While the true impact on patient care cannot be directly measured, the advancement of the field relies heavily on these collaborations.

ABBREVIATIONS

OPP = Open Payments Program; UCSF = University of California, San Francisco.
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