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]