Friday, December 31, 2010

The Medtronic spinal fusion scam

From 2004 to 2008, the third-largest performer of spinal fusions on Medicare patients in the United States was Norton Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.  Norton Hospital also happens to employ five highly paid consultants to Medtronic, the leading manufacturer of the hardware used for spinal fusion.  In just the first nine months of this year, Medtronic paid the five surgeon over $7 million.   Another medical scam?  Perhaps, especially when you consider that spinal fusion is a highly controversial procedure when it is performed on patients with degenerative disk disease.  But the Wall Street Journal, which investigated Norton Hospital, is barred from revealing how many of the fusions were performed on such patients.  Read about it here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Which drugs are most likely to produce violent acts against others?

According to a new report in PLoS One, the smoking cessation drug Chantix and the SSRI antidepressants lead a list of drugs likely to increase violent behavior.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Deadly Medicine

"Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year. Will that number go up, now that most clinical trials are conducted overseas—on sick Russians, homeless Poles, and slum-dwelling Chinese—in places where regulation is virtually nonexistent, the F.D.A. doesn’t reach, and “mistakes” can end up in pauper’s graves? The authors investigate the globalization of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Government’s failure to rein in a lethal profit machine."
 
Read more in (of all places) Vanity Fair.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How the Atlantic Monthly finally made a profit

The Atlantic is in the black again, at a time when other magazines are sinking into the abyss.  How did they do it?  The Times reports.

More reports on the Markingson suicide

For those who have been following the call for an investigation of the suicide of Dan Markingson in a University of Minnesota clinical trial, here is a round-up of news reports from the later part of the week.

Science

CNBC

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota Public Radio Part 1

Minnesota Public Radio Part 2

Twin Cities Daily Planet Part 1

Twin Cities Daily Planet Part 2

In Minnesota, Drug Company Reports of Payments to Doctors Arrive Riddled With Mistakes

Pro Publica has checked its records of pharma payments to doctors against those of the Minnesota pharmacy board, and the Minnesota records have a lot of mistakes. Read more here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Assange and Reverby should team up.

What do you do if you're the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, you avoid ethical protocol so you can try your new antibiotic on free guinea pigs during a meningitis epidemic, and then are sued by the Nigerian government for your unscrupulous actions? Answer: You hire investigators to find dirt on the Nigerian attorney general and pay off the Nigerian media to help you with your smear campaign. Read more about the recent Wikileaks Pfizer cable here, at The Guardian.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

University responds to bioethics letter

"An attorney for the University of Minnesota says he will meet with Regents this week to discuss a request for an independent drug trial investigation."  MPR reports.

FRPE calls for investigation of clinical trial suicide

The Faculty for the Renewal of Public Education (FRPE) is calling for an investigation of the suicide of Dan Markingson.  The group has sent a letter to the Board of Regents, supporting an earlier letter from Center for Bioethics faculty members.  The FRPE letter can be found here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

University of Minnesota bioethicists call for investigation of clinical trial suicide

A group of eight University of Minnesota faculty members affiliated with the Center for Bioethics has asked the Board of Regents to investigate a death in an industry-sponsored clinical trial at the university.  Dan Markingson committed suicide in an AstraZeneca antipsychotic study in 2004.  The letter and background information can be found here.   Andy Mannix reports on the case for City Pages, while Thomas Lee's article for Med City News is here. Susan Perry also reports for MinnPost.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The TMJ Implant Fiasco

John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has uncovered another astonishing conflict-of-interest disaster, this one involving a spectacularly bad jaw joint device approved by a conflicted FDA panel.  Read about it here.