“Many Americans die every year because they need kidney transplants, in large part due to federal laws banning organ sales. …an average of over 30,000 Americans have died each year, because the ban prevented them from getting transplants in time.” [Ilya Somin; Frank McCormick, Philip J. Held, and Glenn M. Chertow, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology] More: Michael Huemer (“I don’t know what ‘commodification’ is or why anyone should care about it. But it would have to be incredibly terrible to justify imposing death on people to prevent them from doing it.”); Emily Largent, Petrie-Flom “Bill of Health” (“unmet need for hearts, lungs, livers, and other vital organs” is also dire; “real-world test of regulated payments is needed”); Ike Brannon, Cato Regulation magazine (unneeded multivisceral transplants).
- Sued if you do, sued if you don’t: drugmaker faces lawsuits over failure to provide Fosamax warning that FDA told it not to provide [Jim Copland, James Beck on Merck Sharp & Dohme v. Albrecht, pending at Supreme Court]
- On new APA masculinity guidelines, Sally Satel cuts to the point: will they improve the success of therapy for people seeking help? [Washington Post]
- What does it mean to say the opioid litigation might follow the tobacco model? [Rob McKenna, U.S. Chamber] Citing fate of earlier gun lawsuit filed by city of Bridgeport, state judge dismisses four lawsuits filed by Connecticut cities against opioid industry [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine]
- I do miss the days when leaders of the public health profession focused on communicable diseases like typhus rather than running after Bloomberg grants to promote soda bans [Joel Grover and Amy Corral, NBC Los Angeles]
- Cooking the books on infant mortality: about those Cuban life expectancy stats [David R. Henderson]
- As artificial intelligence begins to make inroads into medical diagnosis, liability issues loom large [Beck, see related linked earlier]
- No, the federal court ruling in Texas isn’t likely to take down the Affordable Care Act / ObamaCare [Ilya Shapiro]
- Should doctors exhort their patients to vote? Hell, no [Wesley J. Smith]
- “Accutane Litigation Goes Out with a Bang, Not a Whimper” [James Beck, Drug & Device Law] “The Worst Prescription Drug/Medical Device Decisions of 2018” [same; plus the best]
- Proposal for price controls on Medicare Part B might amount to drug reimportation lite [Roger Pilon] Canadian reimportation as shiny object [Beck]
- The European Medicines Agency has approved the powerful new opioid Dsuvia, and FDA head Gottlieb made the right choice in following suit, Sen. Markey and Public Citizen notwithstanding [Jeffrey Singer, Cato]
- “Your doctors didn’t jump out of business; they were pushed. And they were pushed by people way too convinced of their qualifications to redesign the world around them.” [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- “Doctors as Data Entry Clerks for the Government Health Surveillance System” [Jeffrey Singer, Cato]
- “Judge Orders Spine Surgeon to Pay Discovery Fees Over Funding Model” [Greg Land, Daily Report Online (Atlanta); defense lawyer says case “throws a harsh light on the interaction between personal injury lawyers, healthcare providers and litigation funders”]
- What if feds’ enforcement policies on truthful off-label pharmaceutical promotion run aground on First Amendment considerations? [James Beck, Drug and Device Law]
- Chronic pain patients: “Civilian Casualties Continue to Mount in Governments’ War on Opioids” [Jeffrey Singer] Feds’ tightening of opioid scheduling cut refills, but increased number of pills initially prescribed [same] So sinister for psychiatrist to take cash payment and keep night hours in a rented office, or is it? [Ira Stoll]
- Certificate-of-need laws: “North Carolina Doctor Sues to Break Up State-Enforced Medical Cartels” [Christian Britschgi, Reason]
- Law firm of Morgan & Morgan, awarded contingency contract for Kentucky opioid suit, holds fundraiser for Kentucky AG Andy Beshear [Legal NewsLine]
Defense lawyer Stephen McConnell reviews the shame-on-business documentary The Bleeding Edge. There were few surprises: “We had been fully warned that the film was a thoroughly one-sided screed against the medical device industry….We also hear from ubiquitous plaintiff expert David Kessler, a former head of the FDA.” And see: our coverage back when of other one-sided documentaries including “The Hunting Ground” (college sexual assault), “Super Size Me,” the one on the (fraud-riddled) banana pesticide litigation, and above all the trial-lawyer-backed “Hot Coffee” (much more on which).
A noteworthy podcast: I join Dr. Saurabh Jha [@RogueRad on Twitter] for an lengthy discussion of how American tort and medical malpractice law has changed over the past century, similarities and differences with Britain, how ethics in the legal field stacks up against ethical trends in medicine and the pharmaceutical business, contingency fees, the successes and shortcomings of legislated tort reform, trends in the courts, incentives for medical testing, and much more. It’s all part of Dr. Jha’s podcast series, associated with the Journal of the American College of Radiology. You can listen here.
- Wrong on many other issues, the American Medical Association is right to resist an artificial 3-day limit on opiate prescriptions [Jeffrey Singer, Cato; Jacob Sullum]
- “Does Ride-Sharing Substitute for Ambulances?” [Leon S. Moskatel and David J. G. Slusky, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 114]
- Fourth Circuit tosses Maryland law banning “price gouging” of “essential” generic drugs, finding that state violates Dormant Commerce Clause by presuming to control transactions entirely outside its boundaries [Zack Buck, Bill of Health; Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
- President Trump signs “right to try” legislation expanding right of terminally ill patients to enter unapproved therapies; squaring this with existing FDA regulation may present knotty problems [Michael Cannon, Cato; Michael Maharrey (“In fact, victories in 40 state legislatures preceded Trump’s signing ceremony”); earlier here, here, and at Cato Unbound last year] More cautions from Jim Beck on liability angle [Drug and Device Law]
- Florida, departing from other states’ practice, caps its outside lawyers’ recovery at $50 million: “Latest Wave Of State Opioid Lawsuits Shows Diverging Strategies And Lawyer Pay Scales” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
- In medical innovation, “equality is a mediocre goal. Aim for progress.” [Tyler Cowen]
- Outcry among British doctors after trainee pediatrician convicted of negligent homicide in death of patient following systemic errors at understaffed hospital [Telegraph, Saurabh Jha, Medscape, General Medical Council]
- “There’s no particular reason to think that smokers will be happier with denatured tobacco than drinkers have been with weak beer.” [J.D. Tuccille on FDA plans to reduce nicotine level in cigarettes]
- “Why Doesn’t the Surgeon General Seek FDA Reclassification of Naloxone to OTC?” [Jeffrey Singer, Cato]
- “1 in 3 physicians has been sued; by age 55, 1 in 2 hit with suit” [Kevin B. O’Reilly, AMA Wire] “Best and worst states for doctors” [John S Kiernan, WalletHub]
- “Soon came a ‘routine’ urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug. A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.” [Beth Mole, ArsTechnica]
- Milkshakes could be next as sugar-tax Tories in Britain pursue the logic of joylessness [Andrew Stuttaford, National Review]
Should gatekeepers to the medical profession test prospective doctors on their adherence to tenets of social justice? [Devorah Goldman, Weekly Standard]
New York Times deep dive into the ethical morass of pelvic-mesh-suit recruitment, in which lawsuit shops recruit women into often unnecessary and sometimes dangerous surgery to remove implanted material, a step needed for claims to be lucrative. [Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times] Opening paragraphs:
Jerri Plummer was at home in Arkansas, watching television with her three children, when a stranger called to warn that her life was in danger.
The caller identified herself only as Yolanda. She told Ms. Plummer that the vaginal mesh implant supporting her bladder was defective and needed to be removed. If Ms. Plummer didn’t act quickly, the caller urged, she might die.
And how, in the age of HIPAA, did the recruiter on the phone come to know so very much about the medical history of the woman being pitched? What follows is a story of conduct that is shocking, appalling, unethical — but neither surprising nor unusual to those of us who have been writing about the abuses of the litigation business for many years. Plaintiffs suing over back pain after accidents, for example, are regularly steered into unnecessary back surgery, and plaintiffs in the breast-implant litigation were steered into removal surgeries for which the only indications were legal, not medical. These alas are the incentives of injury litigation: run up the medicals (the higher the bill for testing and therapy, the higher the claim value) and if you’re suing over a drug or therapy itself, maybe disengage from it to show your fears are genuine.
All that said, congratulations to the Times and reporters Goldstein and Silver-Greenberg for an investigation that shines a bright light on the need for reform. More: Beck.