Doctors Who Got Rich Scamming The System

IMAGE: Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0

Falsifying data, taking bribes, betraying our trust

| By Robert Pearl, M.D., FORBES

| Insider deals, million dollar payoffs plague healthcare providers in 2018

| Another year, another set of scandals making headlines in American medicine.

Adding to the already endless stream of improprieties that rocked U.S. healthcare in 2018 is a pair of tawdry tales involving researchers and clinicians at two of healthcare’s most respected institutions.

Fall was a rough season for the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“When it comes to the questionable ethics of accepting money and perks from drug and device companies, doctors and hospital administrators routinely look the other way.”

In October, its chief executive Dr. Craig B. Thompson resigned from the boards of Merck and Charles River Laboratories after investigations by The New York Times turned up “insider deals among hospital officials and undisclosed industry relationships” with drug companies.

A month earlier, the center’s chief medical officer Dr. José Baselga stepped down after failing to disclose serious conflicts of interest.

Among them, Baselga gave overly favorable reviews of Swiss drug giant Roche but failed to disclose $3 million in direct payments from the company since 2014. The embattled doctor told ProPublica the disclosure lapses were “unintentional.”

Meanwhile, Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston came forward with information that Piero Anversa, a high-profile physician and cardiac stem-cell researcher, had falsified and/or fabricated data in at least 31 medical journal publications.

“Problems are endemic and deeply embedded in medical culture.”

As director of the Brigham Center of Regenerative Medicine, Anversa manipulated photos and lied about the efficacy of cardiac stem cells used for patients with heart failure.

That’s after he and his laboratory received millions of dollars in grants and established their approach as the clinical standard.

These were big stories with no small implications. If these scandals were the work of only a few selfish individuals, most HR departments could resolve them.

Unfortunately, the problems are endemic and deeply embedded in medical culture.

When it comes to the questionable ethics of accepting money and perks from drug and device companies, doctors and hospital administrators routinely look the other way. Read more. 

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