Cardiac society gets half of its funding from stent industry

While recent lawsuits and research studies have raised questions about why some stent-happy cardiologists are implanting the tiny metal devices into the hearts of those who don’t need them, the group representing the doctors who implant those stents relies heavily on income from the very folks who make them. So say the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists over at ProPublica.

For example, the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) received 57% of its total revenues in 2009 from medical device and pharmaceutical makers, according to financial information on the group’s website.

Industry contributions to the society’s budget covered $4.7 million of the $8.2 million it received that year.

The group’s biggest funders are in fact the companies with the biggest share of the stent market: Cordis Corp. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic.

Researchers who study conflicts of interest in medicine say medical societies that receive a lot of industry support are susceptible to taking positions that either promote their sponsors’ products or downplay their risks. Continue reading

Stent-happy docs on notice in Maryland health care fraud debate

Mark Midei, then

For over a year, The Baltimore Sun has been following the federal investigation of Dr. Mark Midei, a Maryland cardiologist who is charged with implanting unneeded heart stents after being influenced by the stent maker, Abbott Laboratories. The Maryland legislature is now considering a ban on gifts to all physicians from medical companies.

Here’s how The Sun summarizes the latest news  in this health care fraud case:  Continue reading

Cardiologists accused of implanting cardiac stents that weren’t needed

I now sport a shiny stainless steel stent implanted into my left anterior descending coronary artery that was 99% blocked when I survived a heart attack two years ago. Stents are like tiny chicken wire mesh tubes inserted inside the obstructed coronary arteries of your beating heart and then expanded using a small balloon to open blocked arteries that prevent blood flow to heart muscle.

But it appears that some cardiologists like these miraculous little devices so much that they are implanting stents into patients who don’t need them.   Continue reading