One of the most thorough examinations of the Senate Finance Committee report on Medtronic’s research and marketing of its spinal surgery product, Infuse, was delivered by Roy Poses on his Health Care Renewal blog: “Marketers’ Systemic Influence over Ostensibly Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Publications: the Medtronic Infuse BMP-2 Example.”
His powerful concluding suggestion:
“Going forward, we must consider erecting an impregnable barrier between clinical research and those whose primary interest is to make money by selling health care goods and services. If we do not do that, we will forever need to worry that we really have no idea what ‘works in medicine,’ and whether any particular test, treatment, or program provides benefits that outweigh its harms.”
John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and MedPage Today has led the way with his coverage of the Medtronic mess. Excerpt of his latest:
“Highly positive studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals depicted Medtronic’s spine fusion product as a major breakthrough in back surgery, but those studies were drafted and edited with direct input from company employees, while the doctors listed as authors were paid millions, according to a U.S. Senate investigation.”
Fauber appeared on Minnesota Public Radio last week.
Fauber works for a Milwaukee paper. Medtronic is based in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has not been a leader on this story. It has been, at best, a follower. Does the Minneapolis paper think the issues are not legitimate or important? Does the Minneapolis paper not allow its reporters the time needed to dig into the story? Is the Minneapolis paper or its staff in some way too cozy in its dealing with Medtronic?
Why do these issues get more play from a reporter from another state, from a paper with a smaller circulation? Fauber’s paper has even created a special section on their website, “Side Effects; Money Medicine and Patients” that includes many past stories about Medtronic issues. Does the med-tech industry in Minneapolis-St. Paul have some local journalists frozen under the weight of influence?