Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oh, the $3.5 billion bribe? Totally fine. It's normal. Seriously. Don't worry about it.

Like every other news outlet in the country, today's Star Tribune has a piece on the roll-out of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which documented $3.5 billion in payments from the drug and device industries to American doctors and other providers over a five-month window in 2013.

Unlike other outlets, however, the Star Tribune article has this bit of editorializing: "But the majority of payments to doctors, when they are revealed, are expected to be aboveboard."  The Strib article continues with a quote from the chair of neurosurgery at Penn State, Robert Harbaugh: “Overwhelmingly, the interaction between industry and physicians is positive.”

And just to reassure skeptical readers again that everything is fine, the Strib says, "The national movement toward publicizing this information had its origins in Minnesota, where the state Board of Pharmacy has been collecting information on drug company payments to doctors for nearly a decade."

But the Strib neglects to mention the Minnesota corruption scandals that have resulted, such as the US Senate Finance Committee investigation of the University of Minnesota, the series of muckraking articles on Minnesota psychiatry that ran in the New York Times, or the ongoing series of psychiatric research scandals that have led to the ongoing investigation by the Legislative Auditor.

If you want the real story behind the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, have a look instead at this blog post by Paul Thacker, the journalist and former Senate staffer who can claim as much credit as anyone for getting the Sunshine Act into law.

No comments:

Post a Comment