Thursday, October 02, 2014

Walid offers a summary

Continuing our series on the CMS Open Payments database, I offer this chart prepared by Walid Gellad, and posted on Twitter at @walidgellad, summarizing the payments made from Intuitive Surgical to doctors and hospitals for five months in 2103.  Gellad describes himself as "Primary care physician. Health services research. Co-direct Pitt Center for Pharmaceutical Policy & Prescribing. Opinions my own."  Here's his bio.

Striking to me, as I noted below, is the number of payments and amount (over $2 million) made for "education," i.e., paying doctors to attend training sessions on the use of the daVinci robotic surgery equipment.


nonlocal MD said...

It's not 'education', it's marketing. Pure and simple.

Francisca Acosta said...

I feel people often look at stuff like this and forget that the medical field, just like any other is a business. Just look at the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. Big pharma, the nickname given to the world's vast and influential pharmaceutical industry and its trade and lobbying group, has been highly criticized in recent years due to their marketing campaigns aimed towards patients and doctors.
For patients, they market product aimed at making them believe that if they consume their new drug, their life will drastically improve, often more so than with older medicines. The reality is, these drugs are often re-creations of older drugs that differ very slightly in aesthetics and chemical makeup and even less in efficiency, yet cost orders of multitude more than the generic or older drug option. They market the drugs that will give them the most profit, and it is not always the option with the highest cost-to-benefits ratio and can also even lead to those not needing the drug to acquire it.
Like seen here they also market to health care providers such as doctor by giving them free samples of drugs that they are trying to market, providing free lunches and dinners to their clients when they come to do “demonstrations” of products. There are times that doctors can even get free personal supplies be it golf clubs, pens, notepads, medical equipment, etc. This of course all categorized under “education” when it comes to a company’s budget.
Industries such as these spend millions of dollar every year on “educating” both doctors and patients on new drug products, promising life altering results. This business/for-profit marketing agenda is masked through benevolent seeming goals, in this case, educating the public of health problems and treatment. Though companies like these are aimed at improving the health of millions worldwide, it is often forgotten that they are also businesses and above all, they also have shareholders to respond to.