Doctor Sunshine - What You May Want to Know About Your Doctor's Conflicts of Interest

Jane Akre
August 15, 2016
dollar sign scott steiner wiki 200

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, July 4, 2016 ~ Questions have been raised by readers - Is my doctor receiving funds from the industry that makes the medical devices or drugs they are using?  Is your doctor in a relationship with a device company as a preceptor, teacher, and consultant?  How might that change his prescribing habits?

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010 requires manufacturers of drug, medical devices that participate in federal health care program (Medicare, Medicaid) to reports payments given to doctors and teaching hospitals.


The reporting is overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and it’s called the Open Payments Program.

Find your doctor’s payments in this Search Tool here.

For example, checking on Dr. Dennis Miller, who claims to have helped Boston Scientific invent the Pinnacle Pelvic Mesh kit.  See he background story here.   He claims to have brought the idea of using the Polyform mesh (a sheet of Marlex) and combine it with the Capio, a small hooked device with better access deep into the pelvis to more effectively affix the prolapsing organs. Using the Capio, one could avoid passing trocars or long needles through the pelvic space in a blind procedure.

Pinnacle pelvic floor kit brochure recalled by the fda
Dr. Dennis Miller
Dr. Dennis Miller

Dr. Miller’s payments shown total  more than $206- thousand from Boston Scientific as recently as December of last year here.

Readers can also research teaching hospitals or manufacturers. Click on General  to find the doctors on the receiving end of those funds.

Any doctor has 45 days to dispute an error in the public release.

Pro Publica

Investigative Journalism in the public interest, ProPublica  also has a database of payments to physicians.   Dollars for Docs is user friendly, easy to read and is based on data required under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.  The payments to doctors and teaching hospitals were made between August 2014 and December 2014. See it here.

Talking Dennis Miller again, the data shows he has received $957-thousand from Boston Scientific, at the top of the receiving end list of physicians.  The money is listed as dollars from a royalty or licensing fee when the doctor shares a patent with, in this case Boston Scientific as he does for the Pinnacle.

Pinnacle, a pelvic mesh used to shore up a pelvic floor and organs, was found to be defective in this country and was recalled here.   However, label changes to Boston Scientific pelvic mesh devices (here) shows it is still being used overseas by Boston Scientific International.   Still royalty or licensing fees delivered to Dr. Miller as recently as November 2014. See it here.

Boston Scientific, for example, made payments totaling $2.42 million to ten doctors and 10 teaching hospitals related to pelvic organ prolapse here.

Doctors include Dennis Miller from Milwaukee, WI, Roger Goldberg of Evanston, Illinois, Peter Rosenblatt of Cambridge MA., not only for vaginal mesh but for testing of other things like a Premarin cream drug and a sacral nerve stimulation device, consulting and licensing fees for devices co developed with the company.

ProPublica allows you to search your doctor in an archive from 2009 to 2013. See Dennis Miller here.

by Jade R.
by Jade R.

ProPublica also offers Prescriber Checkup here, which shows the percent of claims for name brand drugs. You can check to see how your doctor compares to other prescribers in your state.

Concerned about conflicts?  Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:

What are the circumstances of this payment?

What is your current relationship with this drug or device company?

What drugs have you prescribed me (or devices have you used in my care) that are manufactured by companies you've taken payments from?

Are there non-drug alternatives that I may want to consider first?

Are there less expensive generic alternatives to the drugs you have prescribed?

The American Medical Association provides FAQs about the Sunshine Act here. ##


Mesh News Desk, June 5, 2018, Transvaginal and Hernia Mesh Still Used Today, What Should You Ask?

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