More than 700 doctors were paid at least $1 million by drug and medical device companies between 2014 and 2018, ProPublica reports. More than 2,500 received at least half a million dollars.

Why it matters: Many drugs that are heavily promoted have strong competition. "Promotional spending is a major way that manufacturers in these situations distinguish themselves from each other — not by conducting comparative studies or by engaging in substantial price reductions," said Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Between the lines: The Affordable Care Act required such payments to be made public. While some experts thought transparency may cause companies and doctors to rethink the payments, that doesn't seem to have been the case.

  • Doctors were paid for activities like dinner talks, sponsored speeches or consulting on products.

By the numbers: In each of the 5 years, drug and device companies spent between $2.1 billion and $2.2 billion paying doctors. Around 600,000 doctors received payments each year.

Go deeper: Read the investigation

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 32,870,631 — Total deaths: 994,534 — Total recoveries: 22,749,163Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 7,079,689 — Total deaths: 204,499 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Supreme Court isn't just one of the most pressing issues in the presidential race — the justices may also have to decide parts of the election itself.

Why it matters: Important election-related lawsuits are already making their way to the court. And close results in swing states, with disputes over absentee ballots, set up the potential for another Bush v. Gore scenario, election experts say.

Graham hopes his panel will approve Amy Coney Barrett by late October

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Saturday he expects confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court to start Oct. 12 and for his panel to approve her by Oct. 26.

Why it matters: That would mean the final confirmation vote could take place on the Senate floor before the Nov. 3 presidential election.