Expect some blowback on this editorial in today's New York Times: Drugs, Devices and Doctors: In our medical system, conflicts of interest aren't the exception—they're the norm.
I haven't read it yet (mainly because I'm too cheap to pay to read some of the Times' select editorials), but just from the headline and deck, it sounds like trouble a-brewing once again.
Update: I picked up this bit of the editorial from Health Care Renewal, which has several items about the Vioxx case, Cleveland Clinic, and Topol that make for interesting reading:
- The real story is bigger than either the company or the the clinic. It's the story of how growing conflicts of interest may be distorting both medical research and health care in general.
The essence is simple: crucial scientific research and crucial medical decisions have to be considered suspect because of the financial ties among medical companies, medical researchers, and health care providers.
The past quarter-century has seen the emergence of a vast medical-industrial complex, in which doctors, hospitals and research institutions have deep financial links with drug companies and equipment makers. Conflicts of interest aren't the exception -they're the norm.
The whiff of corruption in our medical system isn't emanating from a few bad apples. The whole system of incentives encourages doctors and researchers to serve the interests of the medical industry.
Update: More on how this doesn't just affect Topol and the Cleveland Clinic from The Boston Globe. And here's Lessons from Vioxx. And another one (thanks, Debra!) from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: : Clinic chief seeks probe on conflicts of interest. Expect more updates to come.
And here's one, just in (thanks again, Debra): From the Wall Street Journal: How a Famed Hospital Invests In Device It Uses and Promotes, Cleveland Clinic Set Up Fund That Has Stock in Maker Of Heart-Surgery System. Oy.
Update: Yet another article on the Cleveland Clinic: Strange Goings On at the Cleveland Clinic: Mere Coincidences or Something Far More Problematic? (Thanks to Anne Taylor-Vaisey for this one.)