Doctors on the Take – Part Two

It’s hard to keep patients safe when the fox is in the chicken coop.  That’s what happens when unscrupulous doctors and drug manufacturers are permitted to influence patient care in order to line their pockets.  That’s the ultimate medical malpractice.

My partner recently commented about a CNN story which reported that doctors prescribing opioid medication most frequently seem to be taking the most amount of money from drug companies.  While that may not come as a surprise, it’s not always easy to spot because the doctors and the drug companies take steps to cover their tracks and look legit.

Image result for fox in chicken coop

Case in point.  Five doctors, some of whom were affiliated with prestigious hospitals, were recently indicted on charges of conspiracy to prescribe a spray version of fentanyl, a powerful and addictive opioid, whether the patients needed it or not.  The indictment charges that they were encouraged to do so by the drug’s manufacturer Insys in exchange for payments disguised as “speaking fees” for educational lectures on the drug.  In reality, the lectures were  cocktail parties paid for by the manufacturer and the “speaking fees” were kickbacks for prescribing.  The more prescriptions, the more money Insys paid the doctors.  Again, and not surprisingly, one of the highest paid doctors of those who were indicted was also the fourth highest prescriber of the drug in the nation.  In addition to money, the manufacturer provided the doctors with trips to casinos, nightclubs, sporting events and strip clubs.  All in exchange for potentially addicting patients and possibly killing them with a drug many did not even need.

Whenever I depose a doctor, he or she always admits that patient safety is the number one concern.  Most doctors care deeply about their patients.  Most of the time, those doctors that harm patients are the victims of their own human error caused by a complacency, although that’s no excuse.  Unfortunately, under our current system, powerful companies whose only goal is to make as much money as they can whatever the cost can that power influence doctors to harm patients out of avarice and greed.  One might legitimately ask how there can ever be absolution for these age-old sins .

 

Posted in Doctors, drug companies, Fraud, Uncategorized |