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Conflicts Of Interest Within Clinical Trials Can Jeopardize The Participants

Follow the money.

Earlier this week, I blogged about the growing economic relationships and even mutual dependency between medical device manufactures and physicians, citing a pre-emptive strike against an Institute of Medicine report that recommended closer regulation of medical devices before and after they enter the market. Such ties, though, are only one part of a broader medical-industrial complex that has enormous impact on public policy in the United States.

A 2009 White Paper by the Seton Hall’s Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy reported that “ drug and medical device companies fund up to 80% to 90% of all clinical trials; in 2005, and that by 2004, three-quarters of all of the clinical trials paid for by industry were in private physician practices or for-profit research centers.” The paper’s authors argue that such trials “create potential conflicts of interest that possibly jeopardize the rights and well-being of research participants as well as the integrity of research results” and that “the goal for public policy should be to structure physician-investigator payment to achieve financial neutrality between treatment and research.”

A recent web posting by a medical billing company unabashedly crows about the extra income doctors can make from clinical trials. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

New York Times Piece About Plastic Surgery Gets People Talking

Monday’s New York Times tweeted a headline – “Never Too Old for Plastic Surgery” – about this story.

While I’m very happy for the 83-year old woman in the piece for her happiness over her “new” $8,000 breasts, the piece was framed like an expensive billboard for plastic surgeons – only it didn’t cost them anything. The Times gave away the advertising space.

The story states:

“There are as many reasons for getting plastic surgery as there are older patients, experts say”…and…”some are simply sick of slackened jowls, jiggly underarms and saggy eyelids.”

There are a few other perspectives in the middle of the piece:

“Some critics question whether the benefits are worth the risks, which may be underestimated.”

But it is often how you END a piece that determines readers’ takeaway messages – and it is often also a sign of the message the journalist really wanted to convey. And this one concludes with a Harvard prof’s comment: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Article Boasts New Birth Center’s “Luxury Hotel” Amenities

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune headline: “Buffalo birthing center has the latest amenities.” An excerpt:

Starting in August, new mothers will have a chance to multi-task in style in Buffalo, Minn.

The local hospital is unveiling its new birth center, where every patient room will be equipped with an iPod docking station, a flat-screen TV and DVD player, a soaking tub, rocking chair and refrigerator — oh, and a place for the baby to sleep, too.

Buffalo Hospital has spent $7.1 million to turn its old labor and delivery unit into a state-of-the-art facility to appeal to a new generation of patients.

At maternity wards around the country, that increasingly means catering to patients and families as if they’re at “a luxury hotel,” as the Buffalo Hospital website puts it.

And some smart readers have reacted. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

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