A highly anticipated paper written by officials from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) concluded that authors disclosed more research/consulting payments when submitting their disclosures to ASCO compared with those that appear in Open Payments (OP).1

For this paper, the authors looked at the differences between the financial disclosures found for 70 physicians at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s Open Payments website and Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) disclosure forms from those same physicians.1 In particular, they reviewed JCO disclosures from January 2018 to March 2018 and OP disclosures reported for 2016 and 2017 (ie, disclosures reported 2 years prior to article submission, the time period for which conflict of interest [COI] reporting is required by ASCO). In addition, the researchers added 93 physicians to the analysis who were ASCO meeting presenters from the United States and who listed disclosures in abstracts. Combined from these 2 sources, a total of 163 physicians were surveyed.

The types of payments the investigators considered in the analysis included any one-time payments of more than $10 or payments exceeding $100 annually, ownership interests, and research payments. If the researchers had at least 10 expense payments within the study period from the same company, these were considered one unique OP company-category payment. Company entries were “harmonized” to account for different versions of the same company name, but disclosures with missing company information were removed prior to analysis. In an effort to better match the disclosures across OP and ASCO, the researchers did not consider certain payments in their analysis, such as the food, beverage, gift, and entertainment payments listed in OP, as well as honoraria in OP, which were merged into the “services” category across both ASCO and OP.

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Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer, PhD, division director of biostatistics and research data governance at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and colleagues found that when matched for company and category, overall concordance between the 2 COI reporting sources was 16%. This is the same concordance first reported during an educational presentation at the 2019 ASCO annual meeting. Further, when the data were matched only by company (and not considering category), the concordance between ASCO and OP was 24%.

The type of payment received appeared to matter when it came to whether a payment was disclosed, and to where it was disclosed. The researchers found that oncologists were more likely to report research and consulting payments to ASCO compared with OP; one of the reasons this discrepancy is common is because OP requires that payments be disclosed only from the companies that have a marketed product, whereas ASCO requires payment disclosure for all companies, regardless of whether the company making the payments has a marketed product in commerce.

The researchers found that in contrast to what was found with the reporting of research/consulting payments, expenses were more likely to be recorded in OP than in ASCO records. And while no patent, ownership, or stock disclosures were seen in OP for authors included in the study sample (OP does not track this disclosure category specifically), 35 ASCO presenters/authors reported having this type of stake in certain companies.

Overall, though, on average, there were more disclosures logged in OP (8.6 disclosures) than were reported to ASCO (7.5 disclosures). Importantly, 40 physicians who had research payments awarded to them according to OP reported zero payments to ASCO; 15 researchers who had reportedly received payments and had records in OP reported no COIs to ASCO.