Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device maker, hit the motherlode with a bioengineered bone growth protein widely used since 2002 in spinal fusion surgery. Known as INFUSE® Bone Graft, it’s a genetically engineered version of a protein that’s naturally released by the body and used during surgery to stimulate bone growth – for example, in order to strengthen the lower spine by fusing two adjacent vertebrae together.
But Medtronic forgot to mention that many of its favourable studies published about INFUSE had been drafted and edited by its own employees (including marketing department staff, in a practice calledmedical ghostwriting) while 13 physicians claiming to be the study authors had been paid $210 million by Medtronic over a 15-year period, according to a U.S. Senate investigation. Continue reading →
Dr. Vishal James Makker is an Oregon neurosurgeon with movie star good looks, a bedside manner that’s been described as “charming”, and a distressingly questionable track record for performing multiple spinal operations on his patients. In fact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists at ProPublica have revealed that an analysis of Medicare data shows that Makker had the highest rate of repeat surgeries in the U.S. – a rate that’s nearly 10 times the national average. Continue reading →