From today’s Washington Post, check out this story about the relationships between medical device makers and some/many surgeons who use their devices:
Four makers of artificial hips and knees paid doctors more than $800 million in royalties and fees in four years to influence their choice of implants, a U.S. investigator told Congress. The unidentified companies control about three-quarters of the $9.4 billion worldwide market for hips and knees, said Gregory E. Demske, an assistant inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department, at a hearing yesterday of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
“Illegitimate” payments, the extent of which is unknown, influence orthopedic surgeons’ medical judgment and are so common that it will be difficult to eliminate the practice, Demske and other witnesses said. The fees have enriched doctors and distorted the market by bolstering sales of lower-quality devices, they said. “Industry and physicians are equally culpable,” said Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the panel. “Some physicians make it known to the companies that they will be loyal to the highest bidder. Where does the patient’s well-being fit into the equation?”
Check out this from a doc who is committed to stopping these practices:
Efforts to curb questionable consulting fees have failed so far, said Charles Rosen, an Irvine, Calif., orthopedic surgeon, who started the Association for Ethics in Spine Surgery. He testified that he was vilified by leaders of his medical specialty, including medical journal editors, because of his opposition to company payments.
“I don’t believe the medical societies are capable of doing it, nor the industry,” he said. “It is so embedded now among most of the people running these societies, including the educational foundations, that I don’t think it’s possible to change that without something from the outside happening.”
It’s not just the inappropriate influence of pharmaceutical companies that needs to be addressed. It’s the medical device makers, too.