Doctors and teaching hospitals raked in $8.4 billion in payments from drug companies last year, according to data recently released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Of those payments, about $4.7 billion were related to research, $2.8 billion were non-research payments, and slightly more than $927 million were tied to ownership or investments by physicians or their families.
The physicians who received research-related payments number in the hundreds of thousands -- about 628,000, by CMS's count. More generally, they received $2.1 billion overall during the year.
The biggest single payment on the list went to James S. Gammie, MD, the chief of cardiac surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center, according to CMS. Last December, Gammie took in a $26.8 million royalty payment from California-based Edwards Lifesciences Corporation, which specializes in medical equipment, specifically hemodynamic monitoring and artificial heart valves.
Meanwhile, drug company payments went to about 1,100 teaching hospitals, including $1 billion in research payments and $751 million in non-research payments.
The biggest single payment went to California-based City of Hope National Medical Center. The cancer hospital accepted $18.8 million in royalties from drug company Genentech.
The payments come despite the fact that many physicians, as well as consumers, consider drug companies and medical device manufacturers for rising healthcare costs. A study last fall by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute in Houston found that 19 percent of physicians blame drug and device manufacturers for rising costs, while 47 percent blamed insurance companies.