Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your doc may have a hidden agenda

…Writing in the WSJ, November 20, 2007, David Armstrong reports on how doctors are being asked or required to reveal their “side jobs” as they apply to medical devices or medications.

…In the Wayback, HA subcontracted to a continuing medical education firm that set up conferences for a big drug company. Each conference featured an ailment addressed by the company’s products—and of course, the products were prominently mentioned and explained.

…Funny--HA can’t remember other companies’ competing projects getting any play at all.

…The doctors who tested these products for the company were the speakers and were paid beaucoup bucks. Shocker, what?

…Armstrong uses the example of a doctor installing artificial shoulders—he helped invent the shoulder, but does not get a royalty on those he does himself. Still, he told patients about his connection with the company.

…Two states—Minnesota and Vermont—have laws requiring pharmcos to report payments to doctors.

…There also is a bill in Congress requiring companies to list doctors who get more than $25.

…The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons will require, starting in January, that surgeons tell patients about financial ties.

…You can already see if they have ties to the top orthopedic equipment companies by going to those companies’websites.

…One patient advocate isn’t sure patients should brace their docs about these arrangments (the word “kickback” was used in the story).

…Patients should not have to question these physicians! The professional associations and the physicians themselves should make these relationships clear—then patients can decide if they are getting the best drug or device.

...Or just the one the physician is pushing, for whatever reason.


Star Lawrence said...

Plus! Check this out:


Trisha Torrey said...

Good post, Star.

I'm the patient advocate quoted in the article. I was able to give the reporter a handful of examples of patients who would have been harmed had they not figured out their doctors were altering treatment recommendations because they could profit from them. One was a man who was told to have regular prostate surgery even though he figured out on his own that robotic surgery would have fewer side effects. (Surprise! the doctor recommending regular surgery didn't have the ability to perform robotic.) Another was told she needed chemo even though it turned out she didn't have cancer -- she had been misdiagnosed. The oncologist in question would have profited from "selling" her the chemo. (That patient would be -- ME.)

But I don't think patients should be asking their doctors about these relationships directly. That research needs to be done outside the office. Trust, but verify.

Scary stuff. Transparency and full disclosure are vital if patients are to feel as if all decisions are being made in their best interests, as opposed to the best interests of their providers' wallets.

Trisha Torrey

Star Lawrence said...

I totally agree! I try not to be too anti-doc, but I check everything! Still...things crop up.
Thanks for writing.