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Financial Ties Bind Medical Societies to Drug and Device Makers

Professional groups like the Heart Rhythm Society write guidelines on treatments and the use of medical devices, but researchers say their acceptance of sponsorships and grants from drug and device makers poses a conflict of interest that many patients never consider.

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D.

June 3, 2011, 1:34 p.m.

Boy, you really ARE a believe in allopathy, aren’t you, DPh?  Well, I’m not a believer.  I’m amongst the growing, actually burgeoning sector of the population of America who is beginning to see through the crapola of the modern medical business/industry, and seeing it for what it really is. 

If you would have bothered to look at the web site I provided, you might see the light yourself.  People like you, however, are so entrenched in allopathy they can see nothing beyond that narrow scope.  When you get taken to the cleaners and are on 26 prescription medications and have collateral damage from the childhood “necessary” vaccinations which are nothing but a boatload of toxic junk which never did anyone any good, you might see that I’m right in my assessments.  Until then, sayonara.  You’ll just never understand the enormity of how you’ve been hoodwinked by the current, broken medical dogmatic system.

Clark Baker

June 3, 2011, 1 p.m.

DPh - Your response to D suggests that you are either a pharmaceutical marketing rep or less knowledgeable than you want people to think.  Your anonymity is also suspect.

Some FACTS (e.g. not marketing):

1. ALL infectious diseases - including measles, mumps, rubella and the flu became statistically irrelevant in the US by about 1955 - years before many of these vaccines went on the market.

JAMA. 1999;281(1):61-66 (doi:10.1001/jama.281.1.61)

2. If tracked like real diseases, preventable adverse drug reactions (ADRs) - including vaccines - would rank between the 4th and 6th leading cause of death in the United States – far above the diseases that advocates like you make noise about. 

JAMA. 1998;279(15):1200-1205 (doi:10.1001/jama.279.15.1200).

3. When the healthcare and drug industries harm patients, their profits INCREASE!

JAMA, December 21 1994-vol 272, No. 23 “Error in Medicine,” Leape.

So why would you defend or BELIEVE a drug industry that has paid $9 billion since 2004 to settle THOUSANDS of criminal and civil complaints related to the illegal marketing of drugs that, according to AMA reports, kill or injure more than a million Americans ANNUALLY?

These VERIFIABLE facts mean that Americans are more likely to be injured or killed by drugs than by the diseases they allegedly fight or prevent – a fact that wouldn’t generate funding much from the NIH, CDC or drug companies if disclosed.

So while someone here may qualifiy as a “complete idiot,” I’m not sure that D is as qualified as his detractors.

Speaking as a career investigator (retired LAPD), I’ve found that epithets and insults are generally employed by those who have no evidentiary leg to stand on.  D’s heresy can only offend those who BELIEVE your theology.

Clark Baker
Principal Investigator
OMSJ, Inc.

DPh

June 3, 2011, 11:39 a.m.

D, are you a complete idiot?  Don’t vaccinate your children?  Let’s just run around and let measles, mumps, smallpox, and whooping cough just run rampant.  Let’s return to the dark ages.

As far as drug companies, and medical device sales and marketing?  It’s outrageous.  At some point they have to be reigned in.  I see doctors switching to much more expensive pharmaceuticals the second a patent expires.  Many of the new pharmaceuticals are simply controlled release forms or some isomer of the previous product.  Advertisers should be forced to disclose the average sales cost for a month’s supply of any medication.  Doctors or medical societies should be advocates for cost effective care, not how much money can we make.

humberto

May 30, 2011, 11:55 a.m.

I wonder if over there know something about some anti-cancer and my mother is very bad thanks

Rbert Finney PhD

May 26, 2011, 9:23 a.m.

Special interests have hijacked healthcare to promote their products and companies to the detriment of the patients and taxpayers who fund it.

Original investigation, “Death Panel Court Order: Judge Nullifies Informed Consent,” is posted on http://judicialactivism.info/1st Thumbnail   - Judges Death Panel.pdf.
By ruling that a surgeon is not liable for failing to disclose sufficient information to allow a reasonable person to make informed consent, San Diego Court Commissioner Ernest M. Gross turned a taxpayer-funded court of law into a death panel.
Judge Gross presided over a two hour trial to determine whether Dr. Stephen L. Wheeler had a duty to disclose his human subject experiment on 402 patients in whom he had placed 803 dental implants without their informed consent. A former patient, whose implant had failed, filed a complaint against Dr. Wheeler for intentionally concealing that he had been used as a human lab rat.
Dr. Wheeler had collaborated with Dentsply (multi-billion dollar dental device manufacturer) to conduct a six-year human experiment on the company’s rarely tested Frialit-2 cylinder implant to determine failure rates. Dr. Wheeler’s consent form did not contain disclosures, as required by California law. Many of the implants failed. The implant was removed from the market.

During the trial, Judge Gross gave a long lecture about the importance of fully informed consent as applied to his own hip implant surgery.
Robert D. Finney, Ph.D.

Daniel Webster

May 18, 2011, 9:47 p.m.

The medical profession has studied science and medicine extensively, but seems to have little (if any) study of ethics.  The Oath of Hippocrates has a different meaning when you graduate with a mountain of medical school debt and now have malpractice insurance to cover, but then a culture of corruption that uses language to describe themselves as somehow being above the influence seems to prevail among doctors of all stripes.

Needlesticksafety.org

May 18, 2011, 11:48 a.m.

RE: Vaccinations done with needles - without needles no vaccinations. The needle manufacturers have a connection to the government that is unholy, as BD and the other giant manufacturers manipulate the environment to insure they are the suppliers, even when they are using dangerous needles that should be outlawed.  Injection and blood collection needles need to be made safe—therefore, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act 2000.

D.

May 18, 2011, 11:42 a.m.

You can go to http://www.nvic.org and print out the papers you need to keep your children in school without vaccinations.  I think WA State is the only one (right now) where it has been voted illegal to claim a religious or other exemption, except medical.  How, exactly, would parents get a medical exemption from vaccines when it’s the medical world who insists on them??  It makes no sense.

Also, it is now universal law that no drug manufacturer, or the provider of such drugs and vaccines, can be held liable for their damage.  So if a parent knows, but has no “scientific” proof that a vaccine or drug has harmed or killed their child (or even an adult), there is absolutely no recourse in the crooked justice system we have today.  Not that there ever really was.  The DOJ, next to our own gubment, is the most devious, crooked bunch of bastards on the face of the earth.  Don’t ever expect anything but grief from any of them.  And it’s only going to get worse.

Clark Baker

May 18, 2011, 10:55 a.m.

How do you “vote with your feet” when these behaviors are considered the medical “standard of care.”  Several of our clients tried to run, but no other hospitals are willing to deviate from the protocols that they’re trying to run from.  And doctors who DO deviate risk the loss of their medical licenses and practices if they are discovered - and insurers won’t pay for treatment that deviates either.  So unless you do not buy insurance and only seek treatments in other countries, you’re stuck.  If you have children that you intend to enroll in school, chances are that you cannot unless you’ve abided by CDC vaccine schedules.  And if you or your child gets sick from the vaccines, the Justice Department will defend the vaccine manufacturer and force you to prove that the vaccine harmed your child.  But don’t believe me - read the book Vaccine Epidemic (2011) for a description from parents who endured these battles.

For families with children and ordinary means, there is no place to run.

D.

May 17, 2011, 8:10 p.m.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Needlesticksafety.org

May 17, 2011, 6:42 p.m.

Yes Jorge, vote with your feet…and, use those feet to run as fast as you can to watch blood drawn from your baby.  Nobody watches, because the grandfathered-in needles are too scary to use on infants—scary for even the most seasoned professionals.  Look what the safety expert for Premier, Inc., the world’s largest purchasing org. has to say about it.  http://www.needlesticksafety.org

Jorge

May 17, 2011, 6:32 p.m.

I say vote with your feet then. Just say no to those corrupt docs and hospitals, throw your pills down the drain, and forget about those phony invented diseases.

D.

May 17, 2011, 4:42 p.m.

The entire medical industry has been pretty much corrupt ever since the Rockefeller’s and the Rothschild’s, amongst others, started mandating and paying for all the cirriculum studies at all the medical schools.  Even then they saw a future bright with $$ signs because they saw the potential for pills, invented diseases, and a society awed by all the hoopla of “medical machines” - making the doctor’s and hospitals seem like Gods.

Now we pay for the corruption.

Jorge

May 17, 2011, 4:02 p.m.

You can also look up the OMSJ by Googling “Clark Baker and LA Times.”

The world is not black and white. A few bad outcomes in medicine doesn’t mean the entire industry is corrupt, just as an AIDS denying cop who beats up a handcuffed JAYWALKER can’t be all bad, or mean that the LAPD is a corrupt entity. Or does it?

Clark Baker

May 17, 2011, 11:34 a.m.

You’re correct Steve - I need to update some of our links for clarity. 
http://www.omsj.org/action

Steve

May 17, 2011, 11:14 a.m.

Clark, the work you are doing to expose the cancers in society stemming from greed and nefarious medical practices perpetuated on people in the name of humanity, is very important.  Please advise how to reach you, as OMSJ has no contact information. Thank you.

Clark Baker

May 17, 2011, 10:21 a.m.

Free Country:

We are not as free as you think.

Aside from the billions of tax dollars that American taxpayers (you and me) squander with useless NIH research and through the unnecessary prescriptions and kickbacks that bilk Medicaid and Medicare, some of OMSJ’s clients include:

* Doctors whose careers were ended when hospitals retaliate against them for not abiding by iatrogenic “standards of care.”

* Career military parents, who are forced to vaccinate their children with known pathogens under threat of dismissal.

* Parents who are forced to administer deadly “black box” drugs to their children or have them reassigned by child services functionaries to foster parents who will.

* Professionals who are ordered by health department officials to surrender the names of their friends, associates and lovers under threat of their personal lives being exposed to employers.

* Healthy law-abiding taxpaying citizens who are serving life in prison after junk scientists and doctors testified against them in court.  During the past 20 months, OMSJ has forced prosecutors and courts to drop all HIV-related criminal charges in 19 cases by simply forcing these so-called experts to testify in court under oath, in our presence.  Last month, OMSJ forced a top director of the Indiana Department of Health to admit on the record that she wasn’t really the expert she claimed she was.  Without OMSJ, he would likely serve the rest of his life in prison.

The so-called “anti-vaccine movement” doesn’t care if parents choose to vaccinate their children – they just want to be able to make those choices without being threatened.  I find it bizarre that government officials who say women can CHOOSE to kill their unborn babies have no choice regarding vaccines and drugs if they allow their children to live.  Is THAT freedom?  And while pharmaceutical “researchers” insist that there is “no evidence” that vaccines cause autism, you don’t need Sherlock Holmes to explain why evidence doesn’t exist WHEN YOU ARE PAID NOT TO LOOK FOR IT.

As a former Marine and retired LA cop, I appreciate freedom as well.  The problem is that the CDC, NIH and HHS generate fear and hysteria to justify the imposition of Stasi tactics to enforce drug industry pseudoscience.  That industry has paid $9 billion since 2004 to settle thousands of criminal and civil complaints related to the illegal marketing of drugs that kill or injure a million Americans every year. 

That’s a lot of altered freedoms – a success rate that al Qaeda could envy.  Except for their white coats, these companies are criminal enterprises.

For those who insist that the industry does a lot of good, the fact that the Gambino, Gotti, Rockefeller and Kaiser families give to local orphanages doesn’t make their enterprises virtuous.

Like air, most people don’t think about freedom until it’s interrupted for a little while.  OMSJ defends freedoms that most of us take for granted.

Clark Baker
Principal Investigator
http://www.OMSJ.org

Steve

May 16, 2011, 11:38 p.m.

America’s freedom to be better than the past, to achieve better lives for our society than what other nations’ call normal, to advocate for what is known to be right and just even when society is at odds with what is right and just, is what the discussion is about. 

Thinking such as, “If you don’t like us, if you don’t accept dung as it it were gold…”—it is this kind of mind that embraces ignorance over wisdom.  Propublica’s research and reporting on realities in healthcare in the end will improve healthcare…for all, even those who chose to be ignorant.

Free Country

May 16, 2011, 10:19 p.m.

Its a free country - if you don’t trust the “healthcare-industrail complex” you don’t have to use it. When you collapse with your heart attack or develop a cancer, you can stay at home, sing songs around a fire, and treat yourself “holistically”. No one is forcing you to go to a hospital. Stop whining.

Mike

May 16, 2011, 10:01 a.m.

Headline:
Annual convention for industry, physicians, dominated by industry, physicians.

This is followed by a widely misinterpreted study published in JAMA claiming that 1 in 5 devices were implanted in patients who did not need them, a statement which has been recanted by the authors, in print, after confronted with established guidelines and obvious clerical errors in the registries used for the study, among other things.

Lastly, one commenter wished there were a “link” that could be posted to support the contention that medical therapy and devices have improved the public health. Well, there are no “links,” but consider the following verified numbers driven from non-industry sources, such as CMS and Medicare:

Cardiac deaths have decreased by ~25% in the US over the past ten years.

Hospitalizations for cardiac causes have decreased by 30% over the same time period.

Or you could ask a sudden cardiac death survivor how their day was. I have a panel of about 1000 of them in my clinic.

Does there need to be total transparency between the public and industry? Yes, in all sectors. And the idea that a company could put any professional society logo on their business card is obscene. But overall, this is just another lopsided story. Big yawn.

NeedlestickSafety.org

May 11, 2011, 4:41 p.m.

The medical device companies are in bed with the purchasing groups like Premier, Inc. as reported over the years.

Beware of dangerous needles in the US. Stop this menace that harms nurses and patients.  Medical device manufacturers are selling defective needles.  See proof at:  http://tinyurl.com/dangerousneedles

D.

May 10, 2011, 9:29 p.m.

I wasn’t attacking anyone.  I was just answering a question from C.  I don’t get a lot of time to look around at all the different links, and you’re all free to post any sources, even JAMA.  It’s usually the .gov links I don’t trust much.

Clark Baker

May 10, 2011, 6:32 p.m.

No sweat, Sharon.  It’s nice to see C & D found at least one little error… I’m still waiting for them to attack the JAMA links I posted…

Sharon

May 10, 2011, 3:37 p.m.

My apologies.  The link has nothing to do with Continuing Medical Education but I would still like to know if Larry Grossman is biased as I found his name on a CME course. 

Disclosure: I was poisoned by a medical product that is still being marketed and used and I suffer from mental impairment.  I have bad days and good days.  Today is a bad day.

D.

May 10, 2011, 2:11 p.m.

@ Dan Walter:  Thank you so much for sharing the link for the book on collateral damage.  I have mitral valve prolapse (insignificant for now) so I like to stay current.  I didn’t have a lot of time to read at the link yet, but I’ll look into it later.

D.

May 10, 2011, 2:03 p.m.

I must admit, I wondered what the Chicago Mercantile Exchange had to do with continuing medical education, but I didn’t have time to look through the entire link and thought maybe it was, in some way, correspondent to the marketing or sales of the medical equipment or something of that nature.  Otherwise, I don’t know.

C

May 10, 2011, 12:53 p.m.

Good job… does the link above or it’s members listed have anything to do with continuing medical education - or does it have more to do with Futures trading and that someone did a google search of CME, clicked the first link that popped up - then did a name search on their search tool - then clicked the first link that popped up.

D.

May 10, 2011, 12:07 p.m.

@ C: Well, enlighten us. 

I thought CME stood for continued (or continuing) medical education.

C

May 10, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

Obvioulsy not everyone knows what CME stands for.

Sharon

May 10, 2011, 11 a.m.

“Physicians are highly educated and intelligent people who clearly can make distinctions about proper therapies that you clearly cannot.  The term is “learned intermediaries” and they should have the analytical skills to make informed decisions. Marketing = education about product benefits with the predetermined expectation that it is self-serving.  Come out of your Ivory Tower and recognize reality.  Grow up intellectually.  And what is your suggested alternative source of funding for CME?”

Larry Grossman, in your post you do not disclose that you have ties to the CME Group. Don’t you think you should have disclosed this in your post?
 
CME Group Special Executive Report

http://www.cmegroup.com/rulebook/files/20100726S_5343.pdf

Scott Miller

May 10, 2011, 9:55 a.m.

As we continue to see everything is for sale nowadays. The mistake i made was i trusted my doctor. Silly me. Let’s stop thinking they are gods.

D.

May 10, 2011, 8:54 a.m.

If the public would just get off its collective dead ass and learn about the heart as a vital organ/muscle of the body they would know that all the gadgets in the world won’t really help.  We must help ourselves BEFORE it gets to the point where you go to a cardiologist.  Magnesium, magnesium, magnesium.  Mostly magnesium oil.  This is the most important thing you can do for heart rhythm.  But—it doesn’t cost an arm and three legs, so hey, it can’t possibly work.  Also, it’s from that boogey-man broom closet called natural therapy, so that makes it even more criticized in the allopathic world.  Hemlock, CoQ10, B complex and good fats will go a lot farther to prevent problems and protect heart health than any doctor on the face of this good earth, I don’t care how much “knowledge” he thinks he has or how many hours of CME he has.

Clark Baker

May 9, 2011, 7:39 p.m.

Larry Grossman:

Two weeks ago, OMSJ deposed one of your “highly educated and intelligent” medical doctors - a self-described expert who prosecutors called to testify as their expert witness.

http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/local/marion_county/alleged-predators-hiv-diagnosis-in-doubt

After our first hour of questioning, this top director of the Indiana State Dept. of Health was compelled to admit on the record that she is not really the expert she said she was.  Had OMSJ not been there to challenge her, her incompetent opinions would have sent a factually-innocent man to prison for 27 years.

The failings of this board-certified physician are either connected to her lapse in analytical skills or her lack of integrity.  Either way, she oversees the implementation of healthcare policy for millions of Indiana residents.
 
And while former Marine Corps-helicopter pilot-scuba divemaster-LA cop-investigators like me may not have spent a decade in college, one does not require a PhD to recognize character flaws or criminal behavior.  If I had probable cause to arrest that dangerous charlatan, she would not be the first practicing doctor I put in prison for making bad decisions that threatened the lives of others..

Medicine is not theology.  Doctors are not gods.  Although the drug industry wants us to believe the doctors they bribe (and those who acquiesce) are worthy of our faith, physicians are subject to the same vices and weaknesses that the rest of us succumb to.

The fact that the drug industry has paid $9 billion since 2004 to settle thousands of criminal and civil complaints related to the illegal marketing (and bribery of physicians) of drugs that kill or injure a million Americans annually is well-documented in the peer-reviewed medical literature.

Preventable medical errors and complications kill thousands of Americans annually:

http://www.wkyc.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=35109

Infectious disease became statistically irrelevant in the US by 1955 – years before mandatory vaccination schedules were imposed:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/281/1/61

Infectious disease is widely spread throughout US hospitals.  But if we consider that that infectious disease is ranked somewhere around the twentieth leading cause of death in the US, why would we push drugs and vaccines that (if tracked like real diseases) would rank between the fourth- to sixth-leading cause of death in the US?

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/279/15/1200

Although your arguments might make sense to “intellectuals,” I don’t get it.  Then again, I never understood eugenics, Tuskegee, death camps or any of the other intellectual schemes of 20th century medicine.  While some advances have improved life expectancy, no one seriously considers that a crime family deserves clemency simply because some of their proceeds are directed to the local orphanage.

All of this is best summed up by the father of virology when he said, “Unless the law winks occasionally, you have no progress in medicine.”

I guess it depends upon one’s definition of progress - and who profits from it.

Dan Walter

May 9, 2011, 6:47 p.m.

The Heart Rhythm Society is corrupt. Witness the evolution of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation, a risky and unproven procedure that is now front line therapy, being touted as a “cure” for afib: http://collateral-damage.net

Larry Grossman

May 9, 2011, 5:32 p.m.

Physicians are highly educated and intelligent people who clearly can make distinctions about proper therapies that you clearly cannot.  The term is “learned intermediaries” and they should have the analytical skills to make informed decisions. Marketing = education about product benefits with the predetermined expectation that it is self-serving.  Come out of your Ivory Tower and recognize reality.  Grow up intellectually.  And what is your suggested alternative source of funding for CME?

tradeshowboy

May 9, 2011, 2:53 p.m.

I’m not a doctor, but there are a couple points that may be worth considering.
Medical societies rely on the revenues from these annual meetings for a large chunk of their budgets. They make that money by selling booths and soliciting sponsorships. The registration fees for the attending doctors don’t nearly cover it.
Doctors attend these events in large part for the CME credits and access to new research. What? You think they sit around reading journals other than The Wall Street?
There are rules in place that limit the blatant solicitations and hustles you see at non-medical trafe shows.

Clark Baker

May 9, 2011, 12:22 p.m.

PA:

I share your interest in reading the views of AdvaMed’s general counsel and hope that Chris White and Dr. Black will post their responses and objections here - along with a financial disclosure of AdvaMed’s corporate clients and sponsors.  After a quick examination of their website and Google, I found no such disclosures.

If you know them, please send an email with a link to this report so they don’t waste too much time looking for it.

PA

May 9, 2011, 8:07 a.m.

This article is nothing less than what we’ve come to expect from ProPublica.  The authors have taken something that has been widely discussed in other publications, re-packaged it and called it “investigative journalism.”  Kudos to them for taking credit for other people’s original efforts.  Bravo.

I find it interesting that the authors spent a considerable amount of time interviewing sources who had dissenting viewpoints that were not included in this article.  It is less about journalistic objectivity (and credibility) than it is about creating a name for yourself and selling senssationalism.  Why interview Chris White/AdvaMed if you aren’t going to bother including the information?  Why interview Dr. Black if you are not going to include her views?

Clark Baker

May 8, 2011, 11:43 a.m.

Dr. Ye:

I agree that the report is unbalanced, but not in the way you suggest.

As a cardiologist in-training, what do you know about Redding Hospital’s cardiology department?  Chances are, they never discussed this at school… but you can read about it in books like OVERTEATED.

One of OMSJ’s current criminal cases involves a prominent physician-university professor who recently served as a prosecutor’s expert witness against her own patient – an obvious violation of HIPAA.  It is one thing to testify against your patient or husband by court order and another to volunteer evidence to prosecutors to deliberately harm your patient. 

This “doctor” is a senior official of several organizations that include the American College of Physicians (ACP).  ACP receives more than 99 percent of its funding from drug companies – one of which includes Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), which awarded ACP and this doctor $2.9 million less than two months after her testimony sent her patient to federal prison.

BMS is currently the subject of a multi-state whistleblower lawsuit related to the bribing of physicians to illegally promote their drugs.  This doctor unnecessarily prescribed one of BMS’ highly addictive psychotropic drugs to this patient even though the patient she sent to prison was consistently described by her own clinic as “asymptomatic.”

Although half of her patients have died while under her care is not a shock, the fact that she admitted this under oath is.  This is a leader of ACP - an organization that you may have already joined.

THIS is the “standard of care” in the medical industry.  This was the top AIDS expert who prosecutors called to testify against her own patient.  This is why this doctor’s organizations receive millions from pharmaceutical companies, while non-profits like http://www.semmelweis.org and OMSJ are forced to rely on private donations from people and organizations who are not subject to the retaliatory practices of the drug industry.

But don’t believe me.  You can research this yourself in the following way:

Three years ago, the Nobel-winning discoverer of HIV, Luc Montagnier MD, admitted that HIV can be cured within a few weeks with clean water and good food, but that the NIH and drug industry push drugs and vaccines because they can’t make money selling water and nutrition.  Montagnier even implicated NIAID Director Tony Fauci by name.  Don’t believe me – you can watch him say this yourself:

http://www.omsj.org/multimedia/nobel-laureate-exposes-scam

Now… if you REALLY believe that pharmaceutical influence doesn’t affect medical or scientific careers, share this video and Montagnier’s comments with your fellow researchers and clinicians at your facility and see long you last in your chosen field.

YES – this ProPublica report is unbalanced, but it doesn’t go far enough to report the corruption that kills and injures a million Americans every year – for profit.

If the Taliban killed or injured a million Americans every year we would take notice.  The fact that young researchers defend such industries is, at best, disturbing.

Respectfully,

Clark Baker (LAPD ret)
Principal Investigator
http://www.OMSJ.org

Sharon

May 8, 2011, 10:16 a.m.

I see your point S Ye MD, however,  as a society we have locked ourselves into the privatizing of research, still that doesn’t let you and your profession off the hook.  Perhaps there should be an independent body funded by a percentage of revenue of any entity that wants to play in the research game.  A pay to play solution if you will, funded by the companies that benefit but have no control over the results of the research.  I also believe this is a problem in auditing as well where independence of the auditors is questioned because the industry they are auditing pays them for their services and for other lucrative consulting contracts, indeed the results of this arrangement are historically documented in case after case of corruption.  These bodies - research and auditing need to be independent and objective and serve the public at large not the interests of the for-profit driven multinational corporations that have absolutely no interest in the patient population except as commodities that produce revenues from cradle to grave.

And I also dispute your claim, “Without funding support, there is also the real risk that good, cost-effective treatments will not be widely disseminated”.  The information that is disseminated at these industry sponsored events is inherently flawed in favor of the product they are trying to sell to you.  There are no controls over the information presented to you as scientifically sound or independently verified therefore I opine that it is quite possible these meetings do more harm than good by giving your profession a false sense of security when buying into these often times toxic treatments industry wants you to buy.

S Ye MD

May 8, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Disclosure: I’m a cardiologist (finished my clinical training, still with two years of research during fellowship) who regularly attend these types of meetings.

I think this series of articles is highly relevant, but also unbalanced.  The pernicious influence of industry on medicine is a huge issue.  But to only present that without talking about the essential role of industry in research and development also misses the point.  Without funding support, there is also the real risk that good, cost-effective treatments will not be widely disseminated.

As much as I have great respect for Steve Nissen, there are others who have more nuanced views in this area.  I think you should also interview Jerry Avorn, whose group pioneered “academic detailing” as a solution to the dilemma posed by drug reps.  Or Elliott Antman, who pointed out at the last ACC meeting that it’s not enough just to criticize industry, but also to work towards concrete solutions such as, for example, training enough people with the statistical expertise who can independently ascertain the results of industry sponsored trials.

Katy Butler

May 7, 2011, 9:55 p.m.

The watershed question may be: does cardiac device industry money affect what happens to the individual patient? Certainly, device reps educate doctors in proper use of very complex devices—a good thing. But the case can be made that industry money, especially for research, creates an atmosphere encouraging over-treatment, because there are few or no equally well-funded voices exploring the cautions. The end result may be that devices are inserted into people, especially the very old and frail, for whom they’re not appropriate. This is not a harmless thing, like getting a $35,000 toaster you wish you hadn’t bought.  In my family’s case, a hastily-considered pacemaker overly prolonged my father’s worst, stroke- and dementia-ridden final years, breaking my mother’s health and all of our hearts with nonstop caregiving.  There was nothing wrong with the device—it would have been a miracle for someone else. The problem is, there’s lots of funding to promote these life-prolonging devices, and not much funding to examine the larger moral and human issues surrounding their insertion.  For more details, please read, “What Broke My Father’s Heart: How a Pacemaker Wrecked Our Family’s Life,” by Katy Butler June 20, 2010.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/magazine/20pacemaker-t.html


Author
Forthcoming: Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A Journey Through Old Age and New Medicine.” (Scribner/Simon & Schuster 2013.)
http://www.katybutler.com

Clark Baker

May 7, 2011, 2:03 p.m.

Dr. Rothrock:

The problem is not related to “a few bad apples” - it never is.  The problem is that laws like HCQIA (hick-wa) force “the good apples” to acquiesce to the bad apples, lest they become the newest target for the whack-a-mole practice of “sham peer review.”

Years ago, the Semmelweis Society International (SSI), doctors Gil Mileikowsky, Lucien Leape and others proposed that a “black box” solution would allow “good apples” to report “bad apples” without fear of reprisal… but even the success of that scheme would depend upon who opens the “black box.”  (http://www.semmelweis.org)

Since this is how commercial pilots anonymously report “bad apples” without fear of retaliation, why do you think that healthcare’s good-apple majority opposes such a scheme?  Could it have something to do with the pharmaceutical and healthcare companies that fund the leadership of professional and governmental medical boards, associations and hospitals?  Why haven’t the “good apples” pressured changes that would negatively impact their corporate donors?

So while “bad apples” may comprise five percent of all healthcare professionals, the acquiescent 94 percent are the ones who inflict the real harm; leaving the one percent who try to make a difference to find new careers as truck drivers or hanging themselves in their closets.

Protecting and defending the “good apples”...

Clark Baker
Principal Investigator
http://www.omsj.org
(a 501c3 non-profit corporation)

Joe Bodolai

May 7, 2011, 11:25 a.m.

This is yet another reason why ProPubica is such a must read every day. Even though I know of the bigger picture about Big Pharma, the details and documentation of how this “marketing” works is essential. I am a comedy writer, and I can hope to spread this kind of truth in my own way. I don’t mean to troll you away from this wonderful site, so please make a note of my articles should you wish to read them, or if you click, come back here.

Side Effects: Big Pharma’s Brand Extension http://wp.me/pKBYM-vZ

Ask Your Doctor if “An Increased Risk of Death is Right For You” http://wp.me/pKBYM-bF

D.

May 7, 2011, 10:59 a.m.

Well, of course, the word all was used figuratively.  Maybe 1 in 3 is a schlub.

BTW, I had to go to the ER for a leg injury recently.  I am extremely allergic to cats and one of the workers in the ER obviously had a cat or two.  I ended up with a refill script for eyedrops which cost me $136 for 1 tsp of medicine.  Yeah, they’re caregivers all right.  They didn’t do much for my leg either.  My husband helped me more than the ER did.

Most of the doctors and nurses in this area of the country keep their jobs only because the job situation is helpless and hopeless right now, and because they have benefits and decent pay.  Considering the damage done by some of them, that’s a pretty decent reason.  I don’t doubt there are some compassionate caregivers, they are just few and far between.  Personally, I like to try to figure out ways to help myself and let them be compassionate with other people.

John F Rothrock, MD

May 7, 2011, 10:47 a.m.

“D” perhaps is overstating the case in pronouncing that “doctors are all schlubs[?] on the take”.

Regardless, after having spent 32 years in academic medicine-caring (literally and figuratively) for many thousands of patients, training medical students, residents and fellows, and assisting in the development of new therapies for stroke and migraine (wherein the investigative research often was funded by the increasingly demonized pharmaceutical industry), it’s immensely discouraging to hear this same sentiment echoed by so many of my fellow citizens.

While my profession’s integrity unquestionably has been sullied by a number of bad apples, and while I applaud legitimate efforts made to identify and restrain those individuals, I would suggest that “shotgun” efforts such as those promulgated by ProPublica-“investigative reports” short on balance and long on sensationalism, as Mr. Sullivan has indicated-are leading us to throw a lot of baby out with the bathwater.
 
D, do you honestly think we physicians are “all schlubs on the take”? If so, I suggest you stop by a burn unit, an ER at 2am or a charity care clinic and observe those at work. I am incredibly proud to have spent so many years in this profession, working alongside skilled and compassionate physicians and nurses devoted to the health and well-being of others, and I only hope that the next generation of our nation’s caregivers will feel the same as they approach the end of their careers.

Emma Costello

May 6, 2011, 11:26 p.m.

To add a slightly different view to this, this sort of practice is outlawed in Australia somewhat.

Drug companies are not allowed to advertise their products unless it is freely available, ie can be bought without a prescription. This means that things like vitamins, paracetemol, asprin etc can be advertised, but prescription drugs for heart conditions etc can’t.

Companies who sell such drugs also have restrictions on what they can sponsor and advertise. I used to work for charities in the health field and we always had difficultly gaining sponsorship as a result. We could accept sponsorship from a company who makes dressings but we couldn’t accept anything, not even a silent donation, from any company that manufactures prescription drugs.

Whilst it made it hard for us at the charities, I can understand why it is not acceptable. If an organisation who supports thousands of arthritis sufferers accepts money from a drug company to advertise it’s products in their magazine it would be favourtism and possibly lead our supporters to believe that their drugs are better than all the others, which may not be the case.

It also means that the public are not lured to buy specific drugs that they see on the TV (I was amazed by this practice when holidaying in the US a few years ago!). If they go to the doctor with symptoms, the doctor prescribes based on those symptoms, not what the patient makes them believe they have to get a certain drug they’ve seen on telly.

The doctors themselves are still targetted on an individual level, but how else are they meant to know what drugs are available? It certainly isn’t as prolific as it is in the US though. so certainly come and have a look if you’d like to see a different way.

Sharon

May 6, 2011, 7:53 p.m.

Dr. Klein as a MD you are probably appalled at the unfairness of it all but to be honest your diatribe sounds very me oriented although accurate as to the shenanigans that happen at the FDA and in medicine.

Consider the story of a company that has the patent to a technology that will revolutionize diagnostics in this country and save billions in healthcare costs here and around the world.  It’s called proteomics and the first test was Ovacheck.  Woman at high risk of ovarian cancer could rest a little easier with this test that had an over 80% accuracy rate even in the early stages of ovarian cancer.  So if you’re me and have an 82% change of developing breast cancer and a 30% of developing ovarian cancer you can imagine the excitement this new diagnostic technique meant for me.  I could get screened by a drop of blood for the many cancers I am at risk for.  No more toxic treatments, no more worrying about cancer because this test could detect any cancer early and when cancer is detected early one doesn’t need the chemotherapy drugs or radiation.  And the screening would be minimal eliminating the need for me to pay $2,000 - $4,000 annually just for MRIs.  Why I use to tell people my breasts were the most expensive on the market and I don’t even have implants. 
But I digress.  Although the test has been available since 2002 and there are no other tests a woman can get that detects ovarian cancer you would think that the FDA would have rushed it to market in an effort to save lives.  Wrong, they decided to regulate it as a medical device.  For the first time in the history of the FDA they regulated a lab test as a medical device.  And oh by the way two or three doctors that worked at the NIH with the company on the technology left to compete with that company but not to prevent disease mind you – they were going to use the same technology to develop drugs to treat cancer tumors.  He’s the congressional testimony if you want some good bedtime reading.

  http://www.correlogic.com/newsandevents/congressional.php

And the company went bankrupt.  The test; I can get if I fly to Europe even though our tax dollars partially paid for the development of the test and our FDA which I have renamed the marketing department of pharmaceutical companies and the medical device manufacturers or for short the Fatal Drug Approvers, spends its time and our tax dollars sending warning letters to the sellers of benign products like beet juice extract and light therapy while I am dying from a disease caused by gadolinium based contrasting agent used for MRIs.  That’s right as a dermatologist you likely have seen this disease but have been instructed not to diagnosis anyone with it as the medical industrial complex once again covers up their genocidal mistakes.  I don’t get exams anymore Dr. Klein.  Can you guess why?

arnold KleinMD

May 6, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

In 1984 I developed the technique of lip augmentation with injectables. Medicis employed me as a consultant to teach the off-label use of Restylane in the lips throughout the USA and Canada. Medicis also employed Jean and Alastair Carruthers and paid them to inject and teach in the USA. This is highly illegal in that they had neither a green card nor a license. They had one big thing,political positions in US Dermatology Societies and editorial positions on the journals.They even allowed Jean Carruthers to present my data as her own at Johns Hopkins. I did a lip study for Medicis and had spent over 40 hours rewriting the lip paper with the assistance of Joe Burns to assure it was written by me and not authored totally by someone at Medicis. I had replaced the diagrams in this paper on several occasions. Frequently in lip articles the lip evaluation lines are put in the wrong place. I felt the paper had to be as accurate as possible. I also warned Medicis not to present this data to the FDA in that it contains my personal injection techniques. It is very unusual for someone else to present the data from another doctor but someone did present my data to the FDA to expand the lip study. Medicis was now on to using people with political positions in Dermatology such as Drs. Ron Moy*, Rhoda Narins* and Gary Monheit* as consultants. Since Pharmaceutical companies like Medicis wanted presentations at meetings and these people planned the meetings and control the Dermatologic Journals they could remain one happy family. One only need look at the literature on the Medicis toxin Dysport now and compare it with the literature from Europe 10 years ago. Suddenly they want us to believe it diffuses like Botox and it virtually acts in an indentical Manner. One must ask themselves, why did earlier studies show it acts quicker? It is a scientific fact that smaller molecules diffuse further. Diffusion depends on molecular size and Dysport spreads (diffuses) more than Botox . This is why injecting the frown with Dysport usually will gets most of the forehead above the frown. I shared over 35 articles with Medicis about this but they just don’t want to or care to understand the truth. Their theory, espoused by Monheit is that when toxin’s including Dysport reach the pH-neutral environment of the body and leave their acidic environment that their protein envelope surrounding the toxin opens releasing the pure botulinum molecule. And this is why all type A toxins diffuse equally. However Dr Monheit* does not obviously realize that Dysport is stored at a pH neutral and so it is not suddenly exposed to a pH change that causes its surrounding protein to leave. There goes Monheit’s* theory. Also Monheit and Kane have recommended much higher doses than those in package insert on internet courses. This also is illegal based on the bad act. Medical Societies and Medical meetings have now become nothing more than storefronts for the Pharmaceutical companies. The recent approval of Restyane for use in the lips by the FDA was based on my work. The techniques of injection were mine. This is not identity theft but intellectual theft which happens in Medicine everyday.
Arnold William Klein MD
Professor of Medicine and Dermatology UCLA
Consultant - FDA

Carole W

May 6, 2011, 4:09 p.m.

I’ve tried to register and comment because I wanted to tell my story to reporter.  But I still want my experiences with corruption-attempted bribery to be exact, by “one of the best” to be exact.  But this site just won’t accept it.  PLEASE CONTACT ME!! My experiences are really strange and weird.  But I have their records to back me up.

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