Docs Who Praised Prodisc Revealed To Have Financial Ties To Product

Several of the doctors who were involved in clinical research trials of a new back injury treatment, Prodisc, were also early investors in the product and had a financial incentive to see it succeed, reports the New York Times. This may have led to its success as a treatment being overstated. One doctor who participated in the FDA study but failed to disclose his investor status explained, “”There were a lot of people who invested, so my small number was not a significant number.”

An additional 21 patients, about 10 percent of those studied, were also excluded from the reported results.

A Medicare official, Dr. Steve Phurrough, said 10 percent was unusually high. While it is impossible to tell what the outcome of the study would have been otherwise, Dr. Phurrough said, “it gives us pause.” The agency decided last August not to cover the disk for most Medicare patients.

One doctor who has spoke out against such hidden investments told the paper, “Industry’s goal is to make a profit for its shareholders, not to advance medicine.” We wonder if some surgeons mixed that up with the Hippocratic oath by accident.

“Financial Ties Are Cited as Issue in Spine Study” [New York Times]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Cad06 says:

    As a medical professional, this makes me ill.

  2. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    These docs failed Medical Ethics 101. Really, they should have their license to practice medicine revoked, but that’s unlikely, as we’re talking about surgeons in a high-in-demand subspecialty.

  3. loganmo says:

    Um….didn’t these docs ever see “The Fugitive?” jeez!

    I say blame it on the guy with a mechanical arm.

  4. savdavid says:

    Doctors and lawyers are greedy swine. That’s why the went into the professions they did.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    @savdavid: Not true, at least in my case. I’m going back to school to become an M.D. because of how useless the current crop of Drs seem to be. I’ll probably be taking a 50% pay cut in going this route over my current job, but damnit someone has to do it right out there, even if that means I have to do it myself.

  6. suburbancowboy says:

    I’ve only found one thing that works for chronic back pain. Dr. John Sarno.
    So any time I hear a “doctor” endorsed a back product, I laugh.

  7. bukz68 says:

    @savdavid: and I’m sure whatever you do for a living is the epitome of altruism in your community.

  8. RvLeshrac says:

    @suburbancowboy:

    Ooh, ooh! Can I get in on the “unproven-and-we-claim-it-can’t-be-prove” bandwagon, too?

    @bukz68:

    At least he’s not a doctor!

    I am frequently forced to self-diagnose my own issues and then research alternate treatments because the doctors here are gung-ho about hacking off pieces of one’s anatomy.

    Just recently, I had a recommendation for a major bit of surgery. I went out for a second opinion with another physician, and it took nothing more than some antibiotics and a very minor outpatient procedure to solve the problem. $600 instead of the $12-40,000, not counting months of lost wages, for major surgery.

    The problem might come back, but it is in no way life-threatening, and can be dealt with in a more severe way *IF* it shows up again.

  9. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @savdavid: I don’t know, because to become a doctor it takes hard work and a small bit of altruism. Money can corrupt that, but truly greedy people don’t really become doctors because the initial start up doesn’t generate a ton of money immediately and the tribulations to get there hard(residency which is relatively paid lower than a new grad nurse when starting out plus a loan as big as a mortgage).

  10. MYarms says:

    And anyone is surprised by this? Come on.

  11. normanm4 says:

    @flconsumer: “but damnit someone has to do it right out there”…..ummmm yeah. This comment smacks badly of star trek banter (“Dammit Jim…”). ‘Fess up, you can’t get dates, hence the desire to become a doctor!

  12. n/a says:

    @MYarms:

    IM SURPRISED, oh wait no im not. damn.

  13. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    One doctor who has spoke out against such hidden investments told the paper, “Industry’s goal is to make a profit for its shareholders, not to advance medicine.” We wonder if some surgeons mixed that up with the Hippocratic oath by accident.

    *****

    [www.pnhp.org]

  14. brs928 says:

    This article is totally torn apart in yesterday’s orthopedics news (www.ryortho.com, subscription required). Reed Abelson should be ashamed of herself for her blatant omission of facts, quotes taken out of context, and borderline falsification. Here’s the rebuttal to the quote given above:

    “There were some patients excluded- specifically, those who
    couldn’t receive insurance coverage and didn’t receive
    surgery. There were 21 patients, most of whom didn’t
    get insurance coverage and therefore didn’t get surgery.
    Here’s how Abelson referred to those 21 patients:

    “An additional 21 patients, about 10 percent
    of those studied, were also excluded from the
    reported results.
    A Medicare official, Dr. Steve Phurrough, said 10
    percent was unusually high. While it is impossible
    to tell what the outcome of the study would have
    been otherwise, Dr. Phurrough said, “it gives us
    pause.” The agency decided last August not to
    cover the disk for most Medicare patients.”

    Her comment that it is “impossible to tell what the outcome
    of the study would have been otherwise” makes no sense
    to us. Is Abelson saying that to NOT include patients in
    the ProDisc trial who didn’t get surgery was…wrong?
    Biased? Again, she makes her points with innuendo, not
    facts. The fact was that these patients didn’t get insurance
    coverage and therefore couldn’t have surgery in the
    trial. What scientific information were they supposed to
    provide, exactly?
    It isn’t hard to find out what happened to those 21 patients.
    The ProDisc study has been published in Spine and other
    places. Plus, an email request probably would have
    answered that question as well. Instead, and this is a real
    puzzler, Abelson went to the Centers for Medicare and
    Medicaid Services (not the FDA) for a comment on the
    FDA trial and the patient exclusion.”