The Corporatization of American Medicine

Last weekend, I told you about the copious attention American Cancer Society's pays toward their members' own financial interests at the expense of patients who may do far better with alternative life-saving treatments over the standard fare -- chemotherapy or radiation. Another sign the practice of conventional medicine is completely broken and in need of an immediate overhaul: The selling of drug research secrets to Wall Street investment firms.

An investigation by the Seattle Times has found more than 20 instances in which physicians leaked critical details of their drug research to Wall Street firms. In turn, those companies share this confidential information with a select group of investors in reports that guide them whether to buy or sell drug stocks.

Despite the practice being very illegal and very private (at least until this report), Wall Street insiders say its is commonplace, nevertheless. It's driven by largely unregulated hedge funds, investment pools that make money based on quick price swings in company stocks that the super wealthy can pounce on at a moment's notice. Because a single drug can make all the difference in the life or death, for example, of a biotech company, any insider information can make a difference.

Even worse, wealthier patrons pay up to $1 million annually to "matchmakers," that hook up Wall Street with doctors involved in current drug research. The largest matchmaker claims to have 60,000 physicians (who make $300-500 an hour to talk to investors) on call.

If you're skeptical about all of this, a second link (listed below) includes a recording of one of those meetings, a 47-minute phone call about the financial prospects for two new drugs that would treat kidney cancer with a leading cancer researcher at UCLA.

So, if you thought merely controlling how drugs are advertised, money is dished out to federal legislators or drugs are regulated was as deep as this sinkhole goes... guess again!

Seattle Times August 7, 2005

Seattle Times August 7, 2005

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