Saturday, March 09, 2013

Profit Over Patient Care

CBS Evening News did a piece last night on the meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroids shipped nationwide. They interviewed a salesman who represented the “compounding company” who produced the product, and I noticed something which has not really been mentioned before on this issue.

“The necessary prescriptions,” the salesman said, “were often fraudulent. Clinics provided pages of names -- any names.” These were the names for whom the compounding company was supposedly combining certain medications on individual prescriptions. He said they were names such as Homer Simpson and John Doe.

"They -- most of them knew.” The salesman continued, “I mean, some of them wouldn't do business with us. The ones that we didn't have as clients are the ones that knew, 'Hey, you guys can't be doing this. You're not doing it right.' And we'd run into that a lot, but we'd move on to the next one. There's more big fish out there."

These clinics were buying a drug, not a compounded prescription that this company is licensed to provide, but a mass produced drug, for half the cost of the drug provided by legitimate producers, and were providing to that company a fake list of names to facilitate that illegitimate production. Before last night the role of the buying clinics is not even mentioned in this issue, and even when it finally does arise, CBS presents it as something as a minor side issue.

Why is there no national outrage that hundreds of medical clinics were knowingly buying substandard medications in order to save money? Why is there no “story” about how the cost cutting by medical clinics was the proximate cause of the suffering of their patients? These people came to them for treatment, and were betrayed for the sake of extra profit. Who cares about that?

Why is there no national outrage that hundreds of members of the medical profession were injecting into their patients medications which they knew to be substandard? Why is there no “story” about the fact that doctors who swore an oath to “First do no harm” put profit ahead to the welfare of their patients and, in so doing, caused them to become deathly ill?

NECC is the tip of the iceberg. It is the smaller part of the story. Our health care system has been so corrupted by greed and lust for money that patient care is no longer even on the horizon; it’s about money. And that has become so pervasive that we no longer even bother to comment on it.

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