Open Payments website 'temporarily' taken offline

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Physicians are unable to go online to verify pharma payment information set to be revealed about them in the government's Sunshine website, because the verification site has been temporarily shut down due to incorrect information, ProPublica reported today.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates the site known as the Open Payments portal, took it offline after it was discovered that a Louisville, KY, physician who logged on saw not only his payment records but those of another doctor with the same name.

Based on records the man shared with journalists, Janssen Pharmaceuticals appears to have reported payments for both doctors, reported ProPublica, which notified CMS of the glitches last Friday. 

"After an assessment of the data resulting from a complaint, we discovered that a limited number of physician payment records submitted by at least one manufacturer incorrectly contained information about other physicians," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright told ProPublica in an email late Sunday. "To protect physician privacy and correct the issue, we have taken the system offline temporarily and will work with the industry to eliminate incorrect payment records."

The shutdown comes a little more than three weeks before the August 27 cutoff for physicians to check the accuracy of the payment data ascribed to them by pharma and device companies. The government started allowing doctors to verify their records last month. Data are scheduled to go public September 30. 

The identity mix-up wasn't the first issue physicians encountered with Sunshine system rollout.

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