Abbott Labs VP Suggests Having Mob Beat Up Columnist Who Exposed Shady Dealings

from the after-that,-he-might-need-a-heart-stent dept

There's a rather incredible story over in the Baltimore Sun about the extent Abbott Laboratories' execs went to in their effort to sell more of their heart stents. This is not a unique story, but every time I see a similar story, it serves as a reminder of the problems of putting "healthcare" in the hands of companies who have every incentive to sell you snake oil -- especially when that snake oil is patented and they can charge ridiculous monopoly rents for it.

The story involves a heart stent sold by Abbott. Apparently, Abbott cultivated a few doctors and plied them with all sorts of... well... most people would probably refer to them as bribes... to implant more stents. The article focuses on one Dr. Mark Midei, who "set a record" by implanting 30 stents in one day. That would be great if those stents saved lives. Problem is... a study earlier this year showed that stents were no better than drugs for many patients. Now, in some cases, they can certainly be helpful, but there was little indication that Midei made much of an effort to see if the over 2,000 stents he was implanting per year were really necessary. Perhaps this is why:
Abbott feted Midei at Ruth's Chris Steak House. It paid $1,235 for an " Alabama Pig Pickin'" barbecue at his Monkton home two days after the 30-stent marathon. A month earlier it paid $690 for beer and crabs served during a meeting at his house to discuss Abbott's "business strategy."
Also, that 30 implants in one day was referred to as "Project Victory" within Abbott, and it was talked about how the company should continue to do more for Midei, such as "VIP trips." Oh, on top of that, after it came out that many of those stents never should have been installed, Abbott rewarded Midei by hiring him as a "consultant" to tell the world how wonderful Abbott's stents were.

So when all this started coming out in the press, Abbott responded with some (one hopes, joking) emails about how they should go beat up the Baltimore Sun columnist who was reporting on the issue.
"Don't you have connections in Baltimore?????" Pacitti e-mailed a subordinate regarding a January column I wrote on heart-artery stents. "Someone needs to take this writer outside and kick his ass! Do I need to send in the Philly mob?"
Again, one hopes he's joking, but it again demonstrates the problems with letting these kinds of companies define healthcare in the US. I'm not against the ability to profit in healthcare, but shouldn't the profit be about actually keeping people healthy?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dave blevins, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 7:44am

    The columnist should have the police go arrest the emailer! And have a reporter and photographer accompany them.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 7:45am

    This is what you get with for-profit healthcare. The capitalist market demands this kind of behaviour. Maximize profits, minimize time/cost up to and including anything illegal. This is the free market in its true form.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    they are just going to virtually kick his ass by having a DDoS sit in.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    "Free" of any ethics and laws

     

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  5.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Re: For-profit healthcare.

    No, this is what happens when you have regulatory capture and lack of true competition. You're seeing an example of exactly what happens when monopolistic and anti-competitiv3e practices are put in place.

    (You f*cking coward.)

     

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  6.  
    icon
    someone (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Re:

    This is a problem of Greed, not "capitalist market demands."

    If people committed illegal acts, they should be prosecuted.
    Just because Abbott VP did this, does not mean that all business people would partake in such nefarious dealings.

    Attack the bad people, not the "capitalist market"

    Having Government run health care will not fix this problem, be careful what you wish for.

    If the Government ran our healthcare, then the Abbott VP would be bribing the Government regulators/politicians, not the doctors.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Yo ho ho..., Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:17am

    Broken

    Pharma has been sheltered and broken for a lonnnnnnng time in this country. For example, people are dying everyday because pharma companies won't allow other producers to manufacture the same medicines, treatments, etc. even when they can not keep up with demand. Even if royalty streams are offered!

    This is a very sick industry in this country. You can't fault the practitioners -- not with the money that pharma throws around DC to protect their interests (and keep it our of the press).

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    DS, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re:

    But the gov't is unbribeable! They aren't in it for the money, power, or fame, but the pure satisfaction of helping others and a job well done.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:27am

    How many articles here on Techdirt are talking about how screwed up the govt. is, how politicians are ignoring the constitution, how dumb govt. agencies are being concerning Wikileaks.

    You want them running our healthcare? Really?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    There is no scale because the problems are highlighted, but rarely the successes or day to day "job completed". The federal government is currently handling millions of unemployement applications, checks, and so on, and everything works.

    It is like car travel. You never see a headline like "1 million people got home safely last night", but you do get "Two hurt is horrible collision". It is easy to highlight the failures, but there is way more successful outcomes every day.

    I think it would make the problems seem minor, but that wouldn't be good for writing a nagging blog, now would it?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    I think everyone should see a documentary called "The Corporation" (just google "the corporation film" to find a link the homepage for it). Not to say that there are not good corporations out there, but when you look at the likes of BP, Halberton, the drug companies, etc., if they were real people, many of them would be undergoing psych treatment of some sort. They are worse than the worst spoiled kid you have seen while out shopping... :(

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    I think everyone should see a documentary called "The Corporation" (just google "the corporation film" to find a link the homepage for it). Not to say that there are not good corporations out there, but when you look at the likes of BP, Halberton, the drug companies, etc., if they were real people, many of them would be undergoing psych treatment of some sort. They are worse than the worst spoiled kid you have seen while out shopping... :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Freak, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    AC here is indirectly talking about the availability heuristic.
    It's broader than he suggests, and I think people should be aware of how they think, so they can correct themselves. So please, read up:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    So where is the FBI in all this? Are they even going to investigate Abbott?

    Oh, that's right, they're too busy fabricating terrorists that they can then catch. Going after real threats, especially those conducted by the big corporations that control the govt? Not a priority.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:49am

    You ain't seen nothing yet..

    When Wikileaks gets onto it's big pharma dirt release, you'll see what these guys really do when noone's looking.

     

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  16.  
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    Overcast (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:51am

    Makes you really wonder if the garbage coming out of the medical industry - particularly 'pharma' does more good or bad..

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    Free market capitalism doesn't have patents. The problem is that we don't live in a capitalistic society, we live in a government imposed plutocracy.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re: You ain't seen nothing yet..

    That's another problem, the govt is too busy going after Wikileaks, who has done practically nothing wrong, to go after the far worse big corporations that control them.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    bob, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    This might matter.

    In Maryland where this transpired no state laws were broken by the actions of Abbott and Dr. Mark Midei for the promotion of the Cardiovascular stents.

    Though some laws might have been broken with regard to medical necessity and reimbursements from Medicare/Medicaid.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Hugo Chavez, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    naivete

    You are a fool to believe that the world's largest criminal institution, the US Government (as demonstrated in the Wikileaks cables), will make things better.

    Instead we will have a health care gestapo, akin to the TSA, enforcing the goverment's will on the little people, while the elite gets more and pays less than now.

    I'll say it again, to insure you understand: You are a fool to believe what you do.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    "Again, one hopes he's joking, but it again demonstrates the problems with letting these kinds of companies define healthcare in the US. I'm not against the ability to profit in healthcare, but shouldn't the profit be about actually keeping people healthy?"

    How often does more profit benefit anyone other than those profiting? More competition yes...but usually competition makes profit more challenging.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    angal2 (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Technicality

    Except that it's not in the company's best financial interest to keep people healthy, only to keep them alive and paying through the nose for treatments.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    LL, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:28am

    Lame

    Healthcare should not be a "for-profit" game. The government need not run it, but when healthcare decisions are profit-driven, stuff like this is bound to happen.

    Sad.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    LOLZ, David Pacitti had a LinkedIn profile, but not anymore. I would imagine Abbott has reassigned him, possibly giving him the ability to spend more time with his family.

    Yes, it was a stupid email, probably a joke, and I can kind of understand that.

    The real outrage should be directed at the doctor. As a human, I don't expect Pfizer to look out for my well being. I do expect my doctor to only be concerned with my health.

    Maybe that is the problem, we have forgotten that doctors are in business also.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    On the other hand, if the corruption exposed in the latest batch of Wikileaks is any indication, I have zero faith that we would be any better off putting health care in the government's hands.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    The funny thing is, no one is talking about putting health care in the government's hands. All the talk is about the govt. paying for health care, not actually providing health care.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: For-profit healthcare.

    which a truly 'free' market rapidly devolves into if not properly regulated in the first place. of course, going to the other extream produces similar results.

    all things in balance, i guess.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    But the gov't is unbribeable! They aren't in it for the money, power, or fame, but the pure satisfaction of helping others and a job well done.

    Heh, you sir, owe me a new monitor. My current one has coffee all over it! If only it were true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re:

    please note:
    capitalism = economics. is opposed to various other economic systems.
    plutocracy = who rules. chiefly as opposed to an aristocracy. admittedly does tend to mean 'rule by the wealthy'. all but inevitable in any representative democracy, as campaigns are expensive.

    they are not mutually exclusive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    ббб, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    'there you go again'

    you socshilists don't want to give self-regulation a chance. you sochsilists!

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    123, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    as oxy is my copilot,

    righto. get rid of the government. or when you want something done wrong, let the government do it. or, don't, because they'll do wrong, wrong.
    i couldn't make this up folks...




























    without this oxy.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    jimmy o'skeeve, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    which could be true of Abbott & Costello Labs!

    and I'm going to prove it with an undercover investigative video!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    A Banana Jr 6000 Republic, if you can keep it., Dec 10th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    'does not mean that all business people would partake in such nefarious dealings'

    But ITRW, competition drives the other Abbotts of the borg to 'compete'.
    This kind of 'borderline' ethics is actually normal. Every once in a while a sacrificial Enron walks the plank. While the others 'compete' on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Jake, Dec 11th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    Why not? At least then you can can vote for someone else when they balls it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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