The Spine Journal addresses the core problem of our industry, the spine community behaves like their is no systemic problem. To paraphrase an industry platform, "the spine community is reeling, even accusing the authors of tabloid sensationalism." Surgeons like Carragee, Weiner, Rothman, Bono and Ghanayem are questioning INTEGRITY, HONESTY, ETHICS, and CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Today, they ask questions that should have been asked many years ago. Unfortunately, the medical profession frowns anyone that challenges a prevailing opinion even if it pertains to the so-called new savior in spine fusion. Yes INFUSE has done wonderful things for patients, but it has also been utilized in ways that it was never intended to be utilized, and that's where the problems exist. Even Zdeblick alludes to that. Whether you like it or not, its a drug. It was developed by a pharmaceutical company, Wyeth, licensed to Medtronic and positioned as the panacea for all fusions. If surgeons are expressing their anger, they should be angry at themselves for failing to ask the necessary questions years ago when the opportunity presented itself. TSB wants to know what our readers think, will Medtronic rebound or will they take the hit from the piranha's circling the waters. Everyone knows that anyone with stem cells, or any other biologic are just chomping at the bit.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The last few weeks in spine have been interesting, to say the least. Without questions surrounding INFUSE, and a bit of hoopla regarding the acquisition of Salient and PEAK by Medtronic, what would the industry really have to debate? Another story on stem cells? Another story on POD's? The same relentless blogger asking the ridiculous question, "when will Globus finally go public?" Would it be safe to say that spine has hit a wall? Or, could this be a pivotal and defining moment for the spine industry? Could the Dog Daze of Summer be lulling you the into a false sense of security? Could you be coming down with a case of the Summertime Blues? Or, has the industry continued to rear its ugly head by the way salespeople and surgeons have gone after one another, or, how The Spine Journal has now pitted surgeon against surgeon by dedicating an entire issue to INFUSE? I guess Medtronic's new CEO Ishrak is receiving his baptism under fire. The Korengal Valley rather than Minneapolis may be a better place to sequester oneself. Even Larry Biegelsen of Wells Fargo fame has weighed in with his analysis of what could potentially happen to Medtronic's Kingdom if his crystal ball allows him to look into the future. Someone recently asked TSB the question, why was this blog started? This blog was a response by a core group of people that have believed and echoed for years, the sentiment that this industry needed to develop a referendum on the way business is conducted, how scientific evidence is presented, and how unscrupulous our practices have become in a highly competitive and saturated spine marketplace. How many of you have sat in the audience during past clinical presentations on INFUSE snickering at the underlying commercialization of a product, wondering how long will the medical community tolerate this behavior until it calls out its own colleagues? Does anyone have any questions from the audience? How many times have you sat in the audience asking yourself is this a scientific presentation, or a sales pitch by Ron Popeil for the Ronco Rotisserie? Commercial interest from the podium, not in our industry, especially at an educational forum. TSB knows the actors that have the leading role in this movie. All of them are good men, but just because you have good intent, does not mean that your opinions can't be influenced by your vested or financial interest in a products success or failure. And yes fellow bloggers its okay if the authors of this paper intended to tie in one with the other, because at the end of the day human nature does play a role in science. Does anyone really believe that the intent of this paper was to bring Medtronic down? Absolutely not. Does anyone really believe that the intent of the paper was to embarrass Drs. Zdeblick, Burkus and Haid? Highly unlikely. Maybe the authors are just asking their peers and the industry for transparency. Contrary to prevailing opinions, Medtronic and INFUSE are not going away anytime soon. Is this the wake call that Medtronic desperately needed to regroup? Maybe they will realize that its not all about shareholder value, return on investment, and how many consultants can you have in your pocket? Maybe the company needs to get back to basics? Regardless, Mr. Ishrak must now deal with the fact that his company's reputation has become stale because of their arrogance.