MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Five U.S. Senators petitioned the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to take a closer look at physician-owned distributorships, partnerships that allow surgeons to make money off of medical devices they use on patients.
The petition warned that the rise of PODs, detailed in a report from the Senate Finance Committee compiled by the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), may create incentives for doctors to give preference to devices that provide them a financial return.
The Senators question whether the relationships violate federal anti-kickback statutes and other federal fraud abuse laws.
Distributorships act as middlemen, earning a commission from medical device makers for marketing and stocking devices in hospitals.When surgeons own distributorships, the money goes into their pockets, the Wall Street Journal reports.
PODS exist in 20 states, and more than 40 operate out of California alone, according to Sen. Hatch’s report.
The issue got some ink earlier this year when the Journal reported that physician investors earned as much as $500,000 a year from spinal implant POD Omega Solutions. Omega has since shut down because manufacturers cut them off after the story came out.
Insurance mandate on trial, judges appear skeptical
Federal judges considering the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate contained in President Barack Obama’s health care reform overhaul were said to be more skeptical toward the law’s backers during arguments yesterday.
In nearly three hours of questioning, the three judges on the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals pressed both sides of the debate with challenging questions.
Proponents of the mandate said the panel seemed less friendly toward the idea of enforced health insurance coverage than previous courts, Healthwatch reported.
The law received a mixed reception from the beginning of the trial, which is the second challenge to the health care law to reach an appellate hearing.
The White House flames a new report criticizing health care reform laws
White House officials pushed back against a consulting firm’s claims that President Obama’s health care reform laws could lead to 30 percent of employers dropping insurance coverage in 2014, Healthwatch reported.
The Obama Administration responded to the claims with a post on the White House blog calling the report an "outlier."
"That report is pretty starkly at odds with the experts from the Congressional Budget Office, the RAND Corporation, the Urban Institute and it is also starkly at odds with history," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "History has shown that reforms motivates more businesses to offer insurance."
Conflicts of interest at scientific journals raise eyebrows
Several instances of conflicts of interest at scientific journals are raising concerns about transparency on the editorial board, Reuters reports.
One of the most glaring examples of double-dipping is Dr. Thomas Zdeblick, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques.
Zdeblick has made more than $2 million in patent royalties from Medtronic spinal implants since taking over as editor-in-chief, and the journal has published dozens of studies on Medtronic products, according to the wire service.
"Should you put the fox in charge of the chicken house?" Dr. Charles Burton, then vice president of the Association for Ethics in Spine Surgery, told the Journal Sentinel in a 2009 report. "I don’t think you could say it is anything but an assault on the integrity of medical practice."
Vasectomy clip proves safe and effective in study
A titanium clip that stops the flow of sperm may be a more effective means of male vasectomy than the traditional method, which involves cutting and cauterizing the sperm ducts, according to a new study.
The Pro-Vas clip, made by MenRx Surgical, proved to be more effective and result in less post-procedure pain than a traditional vasectomy, and a reversal procedure would be much easier to accomplish, said lead investigator Dr. Douglas Swartz.
"If these hypotheses are later confirmed by additional clinical studies, then there may be significant economies for the healthcare system at-large to be gained from Pro-Vas," Dr. Swartz said.
NCIIA sponsors BMEidea awards for biomedical engineering students
The NCIIA presented cash prizes to three university biomedical engineering teams competing in the Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Award (BMEidea) Competition.
First place and $10,000 was awarded to the Magneto: Magnetic Induction Internal Bleed Detectorteam from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, according to a release.
The awards were announced during a the Medical Design Excellence Awards ceremony at the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East trade show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York.