… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
[Please see preceding post about this disturbing situation.]
From the Center for Public Integrity
Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest
Accountability: Kuklo, Target of Army Probe, a Top Recipient of Medtronic Travel
By M.B. Pell, Aaron Mehta, Nick Schwellenbach | May 13, 2009, 4:03 pm
If you read today’s New York Times, you’re likely familiar with the story of former Army surgeon Timothy R. Kuklo, a paid consultant to Medtronic, Inc., a medical device developer and manufacturer.
Between 2001 and 2006, Medtronic paid for at least 15 trips taken by Dr. Kuklo, worth more than $13,000, according to travel disclosure records obtained from the Office of Government Ethics. Kuklo, now an associate professor at Washington University medical school in St. Louis, took more than 20 privately-funded trips.
“There’s no lack of creativity in how the industry tries to influence studies,” said Shahram Ahari, a medical ethicist and former drug sales representative. “This is what marketing is about, you take people with that position of respect and credibility, and every once in a while they spin one out that helps the marketing, and it’s hard to distinguish the marketing from the science.”
Kuklo was one of the Defense Department’s top recipients of Medtronic travel money, according to an analysis of Pentagon travel data being conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and the Associated Press.
A former colleague of Kuklo’s at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dr. David W. Polly Jr., took even more expensive trips than Kuklo. Polly went on at least 12 Medtronic-sponsored trips costing about $30,000, including a $10,000 trip to Switzerland. Now at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Polly defended Kuklo in the Times’ article, describing Kuklo’s data as “strong.”
From the University of Minnesota's Mini-Med School Website:
“Physicians and industry relations”
There’s no debating it: The relationship between physicians and industry is paramount to the vitality of the medical profession. David Polly, Jr., M.D., professor and chief of spinal surgery in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, tried his best to prove that point during his presentation at Mini Medical School. To prove his point, he gave numerous examples about cutting-edge surgeries in the fields of hip replacement, trauma care, bone fractures, and spinal surgery. None of the current surgery techniques would be possible without industry partners, he said, because an idea can be great in the lab, but it cannot come to fruition until it goes through the commercialization process. On the flip side, he also said transparency is important. Physicians should always disclose their relationships, and leave it up to the patient to decide whether or not their advice is bias. There are also federal rules in place to make industry relationships remain fair and open. Some of those rules include regulations on how much physicians can be paid, stringent reporting logs while consulting, and completing thorough written contracts. As a consultant to Medtronic, and recipient of research grants from the Department of Defense, Polly is well aware of industry relationships and regulation. He’s an advocate for both, as well as transparency. “As technologies improve we can fix more challenging problems, but it only comes through industry partnerships,” Polly said.What we’re wondering: Were you convinced? Are industry relationships absolutely vital to the medical field? Is it possible for a physician consulting for a medical device company to remain completely unbiased while giving patient advice? Do you believe all physicians are as transparent as Polly? If you weren’t an advocate for industry relationships, was there something Polly said that changed your mind – or at least made you challenge your perspective?
From the comments section:
What we’re wondering: Were you convinced? ... Not really.
Are industry relationships absolutely vital to the medical field? ...Yes
Is it possible for a physician consulting for a medical device company to remain completely unbiased while giving patient advice? ...No
Do you believe all physicians are as transparent as Polly? ...No