November 7, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Thanks to Obamacare, citizens have access to a federal database listing payments made to doctors and abortionists. Now the public, and more specifically patients, can view the relationship between physicians and the pharmaceutical sector via an online database established in 2014.
The federally run Open Payments database compiles payment records from nearly 1,500 companies, 1,110 teaching hospitals, and 618,000 physicians. It was created alongside the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The provision called the Physicians Payment Sunshine Act requires pharmaceutical companies making products covered by the government healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to gather all financial relationships with physicians and teaching hospitals.
The payment information is then published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. According to CMS, “Open Payments is the only national resource of its type for beneficiaries, consumers, physicians and industry.”
The database shows financial information starting from 2013. Its aim was to increase transparency and to uncover potential conflicts of interest by revealing financial ties and their nature. CMS adds that the site seeks “to prevent inappropriate influence on research, education and clinical decision making.”
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly known as the Institute of Medicine, defined a conflict of interest as “a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.” NAM also described that “[t]he primary goals of medicine include improving health by providing beneficial care to patients, conducting valid research, and offering excellent medical education. … The problem of conflict of interest arises because in some circumstances in modern medicine these goals and obligations are at risk of being compromised by the undue pursuit of financial gain or other secondary interests.”
CMS’ role in Open Payments is impartial, but the institution “encourages patients to discuss these relationships with their healthcare providers.” CMS underlines that the existence of financial ties alone is not evidence of wrongdoing.
The database allows for a glimpse into the nature of the work provided by some Planned Parenthood (PP) doctors, which is paid by the commercial sector. Those physicians offer consulting services and conduct research studies and clinical trials (testing of drugs, medical devices or procedures) for pharmaceutical companies. Several of these PP doctors have appeared in the undercover videos implying that unborn baby parts were being harvested for profit. The videos were released by the Center for Medical Progress in 2015.
Abortionist Deborah Nucatola from the first video is listed in the database. As the Center for Medical Progress reports, Nucatola is the head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Services department and “has overseen medical practice at all Planned Parenthood locations since 2009. She also trains new Planned Parenthood abortion doctors and performs abortions herself at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles up to 24 weeks.”
According to Open Payments, in 2013, Nucatola was a recipient of a $2,000 honorarium, paid in cash or cash equivalent, from a pharmaceutical giant, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. Her work was related to intrauterine contraception Paragard (copper IUD), and travel, lodging, and food were also reimbursed.
In 2014, she worked for Evofem Inc., a new San Diego-based biotechnology company.
Nucatola received $18,000 in cash or cash equivalent for research. The payment was for her work related to the clinical trial of the vaginal contraceptive gel Amphora. This experimental vaginal gel was tested at Planned Parenthood locations in different states. Another PP doctor, Savita Ginde, received approximately $800 for work involving the same product in 2014.
As its website explains, Evofem is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of women’s health products. It partnered with WomanCare Global (WCG), a subsidiary of the non-profit Ipas and a distributor of its abortion devices. Evofem “supports a project called Expanding Effective Contraceptive Options (EECO). EECO is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (known as USAID) and managed by WomanCare Global.
Another abortionist featured in the PP video, Carolyn Westhoff, has similar work history but on a larger scale. Westhoff “was one of the lead investigators who brought mifepristone [an abortion drug] to the United States and advocated publicly for its use.” She was also a plaintiff in the case against the federal ban on so-called “partial-birth” abortion. She is also professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University.
Her record shows more than $45,000 in general payments from 2013 to 2015.
These payments included $7,000 in consulting fees from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corporation, paid in 2015 “as part of a clinical research engagement” with the contraceptive implant Implanon. Additionally, more than $13,000 was provided for travel and lodging in Berlin, Germany, which she visited twice last year. In 2014, she made another $7,000 from Merck for consulting. Another $3,500 was paid a year earlier.
Additionally, Pfizer Inc. paid the Trustees of Columbia University nearly $28,000 for a research study entitled “Self Versus Clinical Administration of Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate” in which Westhoff was the principal investigator. One of the principal investigator’s roles is to report adverse side effects. Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate is a long acting, injected hormonal contraceptive sold under the brand name Depo-Provera.
Westhoff, who is as editor-in-chief of the international health journal Contraception, also worked for Actavis Pharma Inc., where she made $4,000 for her work related to an IUD called Liletta in 2015. In 2013, the same company paid her $2,500 for “compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at a venue other than a continuing education program.”
The third doctor, Savita Ginde (listed in the database as Sivata), was featured “negotiating a fetal body parts deal, agreeing multiple times to illicit pricing per body part harvested, and suggesting ways to avoid legal consequences.”
Ginde is Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains VP & medical director. According to Open Payments, in 2014 Meridian Bioscience Inc. paid Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains $26,000 for the “Clinical Study Protocol for the illumigene Chlamydia and Gonorrhea DNA Amplification Assays.” A protocol is a research plan for a given clinical trial and is designed to answer specific questions. Ginde was a principal investigator for this study. She also offered her services to other companies, such as Afaxys, Inc., and Hologic, Inc.
There is also financial information about a few others abortionists featured in the Center for Medical Progress videos, such as Mary Gatter and Amna Dermish.
Before the data is displayed on the Open Payment website and available to the public, registered physicians can review it and dispute any payments. None of the information cited in this article was disputed.