Ethics Survey: Drug testing remains a clinical tug of war

Behavioural Net, 18 May 2017
Author: Julie Miller
“In recent weeks, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) prepared comprehensive guidelines on drug testing within the continuum of care. The goal is to present evidence-based recommendations for the frequency and application of testing, which payers and providers can adopt as best practices. It’s significant because up until now, there was no true consensus. And there’s also no denying that some treatment operators have aimed to maximize their profit streams through the overuse of testing and subsequent billing of insurance companies.”
Find article here.

Disease-awareness ads lead to overdiagnosis, boost Rx sales

ModernHealthcare, 22 May 2017
Author: Alex Kacik
“Ads that try to bring awareness of diseases boost prescription drug sales and over diagnosis in the U.S., according to a new study. There is a fine line between direct-to-consumer drug ads, which the Food and Drug Administration regulates, and ads meant to create disease awareness that often skirt the purview of the FDA, per the article published in JAMA. Disease awareness advertisements, particularly for conditions that only have one approved drug treatment, can bolster drug sales and lead to “inappropriate” prescriptions as patients turn to their doctors and request the drugs they see advertised.”
Find article here.

EU probes Aspen price gouging allegations

PharmaPhorum, 16 May 2017
Author: Richard Staines
“The European Commission is to investigate into whether South Africa’s Aspen abused a dominant market position by raising the price of a group of generic cancer drugs. Pharma pricing is already under scrutiny in the US, where president Trump has vowed to take action against high drug prices. But now authorities across the Atlantic are also concerned over so-called “price gouging”, where companies impose significant price rises for badly needed drugs.”
Find article here.

Novartis, slammed by Korean scandal, tweaks its ethics, compliance policies

FiercePharma, 15 May 2017
Author: Eric Sagonowsky
“Rocked by a corruption scandal in Korea and facing a kickbacks probe in Greece, Novartis says it’s strengthening and simplifying its global ethics and compliance approach. Last month, Korean authorities handed out a $50 million fine and suspended coverage on several Novartis meds in relation to a bribery probe in the country. Novartis employees conducted a kickbacks scheme through medical journal-sponsored meetings, with the total spent on bribes estimated to be $2.3 million, according to officials. Last year, Novartis agreed to a $25 million settlement with U.S. authorities to put to rest a bribery investigation in China.”
Find article here.

Conflict of Interest: Why Does It Matter?

JAMA 2017;317(17):1717-1718
Author: Harvey V. Fineberg
“Preservation of trust is the essential purpose of policies about conflict of interest. Physicians have many important roles including caring for individual patients, protecting the public’s health, engaging in research, reporting scientific and clinical discoveries, crafting professional guidelines, and advising policy makers and regulatory bodies. Success in all these functions depends on others—laypersons, professional peers, and policy leaders—believing and acting on the word of physicians. Therefore, the confidence of others in physician judgment is of paramount importance. When trust in physician judgment is impaired, the role of physicians is diminished.”
Find article (part of a series of articles on conflict of interest in medicine) here.

Ethical conflicts in the treatment of fasting Muslim patients with diabetes during Ramadan

Med Health Care and Philos (2017). doi:10.1007/s11019-017-9777-y
Authors: Ilhan Ilkilic, Hakan Ertin
“Ethical problems arising from fasting during the month of Ramadan for practicing Muslim patients are being discussed on the basis of extant research literature. Relevant conflicts of interest originating in this situation are being analysed from an ethical perspective.”
Find article here.

From physician to felon: A doctor warns how easy it is to be bribed

Washington Post, 12 April 2017
Author: Lenny Bernstein
“In 2014, an internist pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, for blood tests and other screenings. Such referrals are illegal in medicine because of the potential that doctors will put their financial interests ahead of the needs of their patients. To date, 29 doctors have been convicted in the multiyear investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said the case involves more than $100 million paid to the testing lab by Medicare and private insurance companies.”
Find article here.

Yes, your doctor might Google you

The Conversation, 30 March 2017
Author: Merle Spriggs
“An Australian survey of how doctors use social media found about 16% (about one in six) had searched for online information about a patient, with roughly similar results from studies in the US and Canada. This raises several ethical concerns. For instance, what if your doctor’s search through your Facebook, blog or Twitter feeds revealed aspects about your lifestyle, like drug or alcohol use, you didn’t tell your doctor directly? What if that information influenced your access to surgery?”
Find article here.

Many Doctors Get Payments From Drug Companies

MedicineNet, 21 March 2017
Source: HealthDay News
“Many American doctors receive payments from drug companies, but few patients know about those financial ties, a new study finds. The study found that within the previous year, 65 percent of patients visited doctors who got payments or gifts from drug or medical device companies, but only 5 percent of the patients were aware of those doctor-industry links.”
Find article here.