Medtronic was willing to underwrite an 18 surgeon fellowship program at the cost of $1.5 million in order to secure "new business revenue streams," and "nurture support from future customers." The commercialization of medicine has led to unscrupulous practices by companies like Medtronic that claim that they are major proponents of AdvaMed and Staark.
Medtronic advocates ethical standards when its executive management team sits in front of the U.S. Senate defending their past practices (mea culpa), yet, by time they get to the airport, they're laughing at the U.S. Government. A $40 million dollar fine is a slap on the wrist. Senator Grassley if you had any "chutzpah" you would make sure the next fine is $400 million. I suspect Medtronic like other companies in our industry do not consider any of these programs as outright inducements?
How do we establish a level playing field when everyone in the industry doesn't practice what they preach? Free-market must mean that the Spine Cartel has the freedom to do whatever they would like to do because of their financial power. Especially, when you are the market leader! Do the companies act alone, or are the surgeons complicit? This is not the first time that we have heard of a company subsidizing a fellowship program. How about companies providing loans for medical practice start-ups. How about companies funneling capital to surgeons through distributors? How about companies hiring family members? The commercialization of the healthcare system is now aided and abetted by our surgeons. They are no longer healthcare providers, they now look at themselves as medical entrepreneurs. Inducements encourage physicians to use specific companies products in which they have a financial interest, without considering sufficient cost and benefits, or, the availability of alternative products or procedures that may be less expensive or just as good or better when they are involved at this level. The basic purpose of medical care is fundamentally different than that of a business transaction despite the fact that physicians earn a living by providing medical care.
It has become apparent that whenever the Spine Blogger posts discuss how unethical we have become as an industry we fail to get feedback. The Spine Blogger wants to know what you working stiffs think!