Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Company Ethics

As this is from the general world in which I live and work, I thought this article was interesting. Guidant has been taking a lot of hits recently (google "guidant recall" for more articles than you'll care to read), and many of those were somewhat defendable, but I was suprised to hear about this. It seems to me, and maybe I'm naive, like a pretty clear line was crossed with this tactic.

By January, about 80 cardiologists nationwide completed an evaluation run by the Guidant Corporation of one of its products, an improved electrical component, known as a lead, that connects an implanted cardiac device to the heart.

In exchange for implanting the lead in three patients and completing five survey forms, each physician received $1,000 from Guidant.


"The primary purpose of the study was to get feedback on how well the system worked," said Dr. Wayne O. Adkisson, a cardiologist in Portsmouth, Va., who took part.

The program did generate feedback. But internal Guidant documents and e-mail messages provided to The New York Times suggest that the initiative also had another apparent goal - increasing sales of the company's most sophisticated and expensive heart devices. Those devices are advanced pacemakers called cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, or C.R.T.'s. They cost about $29,000 each.

The program proved so successful in increasing Guidant C.R.T. sales that when the survey ended in January, company executives sent around congratulatory e-mail messages, the records show. "It generated 300+ implants," one January e-mail message stated. "Let's say that just 25% were incremental ... that yields >$2 million in new sales with physicians who are not necessarily Guidant friendly. We paid each physician who completed all five surveys $1,000 so our total cost was $80,000.

Shouldn't doctors know better?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Pooh said...

I'm not sure I see the ethical problem here. The doctors are being compensated for their time in reviewing the product, just as they would be compensated for appearing as a medical expert in a trial (FWIW, they would likely get MUCH more then 1 G to take as much time to testify as they do to fill out Guidant's survey.) They are then free to approve or disapprove of its future use. Unless there is a suggestion of some sort of quid pro quo, what's the issue? They aren't being paid on a pro rata basis for the number of Guidant dealies they use, nor is the payment contingent on a favorable review. Am I missing something?

3:43 PM  
Blogger Kaiser said...

You're kidding me with this, right Pooh? You're just trying to get a rise out of me baby?

8:14 PM  

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