THURSDAY, Aug. 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) — In 2017, about half of physician directors of National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers received industry payments, according to a research letter published online Aug. 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

David Carr, M.D., from University of California in San Diego, and H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., a general internist in Thetford, Vermont, used the Open Payments database to determine industry payments made to physician directors of NCI-designated cancer centers (2015 through 2017).

The researchers found that of the 53 physician cancer center directors listed in 2017, 44 held the position in 2016 and 41 in 2015. In 2017, payments totaled $4.42 million, including $1.89 million in research payments to 12 directors and $2.53 million in nonresearch payments to 22 directors. Half of directors (51 percent) received no payments, while more than one-third (36 percent) received more than $5,000. Physician directors were more likely to receive payments unrelated to research than they were to receive research payments, with 12 of the 53 directors receiving payments unrelated to research exceeding the $5,000 threshold (defined as a significant financial interest by the NCI) and two receiving payments of more than $50,000. In 2017, 12 directors received research payments, with four receiving more than $50,000.

“Our findings raise the question of whether industry payments to the directors of publicly supported institutions, such as NCI-designated cancer centers, serve the public interest,” the authors write.

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