Frequency of Various Types of Physician–Industry Relationships

November 24, 2007

Figure 1

NEJM — Doctors and Drug Companies — Scrutinizing Influential Relationships

Percentages were weighted to adjust for the probability of selection within each specialty and for nonresponse. Data are from Campbell et al

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!

November 21, 2007

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Some Good News

November 14, 2007

Judge Larson’s decision was right on target.

The interesting thing about the brouhaha surrounding her decision is that in all the articles I have read, there is all this talks about the hospital interest and the doctors’ interest groups that appear to be fighting for this law. There is absolutely no talk about the insurance industry who is pulling the strings from behind the scenes in all this.

As if the trial lawyers are once again pinned against the doctors and hospitals.

From my talks with doctors I know, this strategy is no longer working–at least so far as the doctors are concerned. They have become wise to the fact that the insurance companies have worked hard to force the doctors and lawyers to be adversaries while they seat back and laugh all the way to the bank by gouging the doctors and blaming it on the trial lawyers.

If only the Sun Times and other publications were to bring the truth to their readers…

Judge strikes down Illinois malpractice caps

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Joan Larsen on Tuesday sided with plaintiffs’ argument that the caps on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases violate victims’ rights.The Illinois Hospital Association said in a statement it was disappointed in the verdict but it is confident an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court will successfully uphold the caps.

[…]

Those caps came after a lengthy, intense debate two years ago over how
to help doctors deal with soaring malpractice insurance rates. The caps
were a cornerstone of the aid lawmakers provided after feeling enormous
pressure from doctors and upset patients to prevent more doctors from
leaving the state.

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Amazing!!

November 13, 2007

The length the insurance companies will go and use the judiciary system to prevent ordinary citizens to find out their internal (and evidently anti-consumer) policies–policies that may become part of investigation for alleged malfeasance.

Famed Plaintiffs Lawyer in Federal Judge’s Crosshairs

A corporation’s worst nightmare, famed plaintiffs lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has unflinchingly taken on asbestos companies, Big Tobacco and scads of insurance companies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.But the 61-year-old Mississippi lawyer may have finally met his match in a controversial and outspoken Alabama federal judge.

U.S. District Judge William M. Acker Jr. has held Scruggs in criminal contempt for failing to abide by a court order to return allegedly purloined documents he received from two former employees of a State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. contractor to the insurance company.

Scruggs — who is representing hundreds of Hurricane Katrina victims in lawsuits against insurance companies — instead sent the documents to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who has been investigating the insurance companies for alleged malfeasance.

After U.S. Attorney Alice Martin in Birmingham, Ala., refused to bring charges against Scruggs, Acker took the highly unusual step of appointing three private special prosecutors to bring charges against Scruggs.

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Health Net's Profit and Loss

November 11, 2007

Health insurer tied bonuses to dropping sick policyholders

One of the [California’s] largest health insurers set goals and paid bonuses based in part on how many individual policyholders were dropped and how much money was saved.Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

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Merck Sings to the Tune of $4.85 Billion

November 9, 2007

Merck Agrees to Settle Vioxx Suits for $4.85 Billion

Three years after withdrawing its pain medication Vioxx from the market, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits by people who claim they or their family members suffered injury or died after taking the drug, according to two lawyers with direct knowledge of the matter. The settlement, one of the largest ever in civil litigation, comes after nearly 20 Vioxx civil trials over the last two years from New Jersey to California. After losing a $253 million verdict in the first case, Merck has won most of the rest of the cases that reached juries, giving plaintiffs little choice but to settle.The settlement will help put Vioxx behind Merck, as well as sharply reduce its Vioxx-related legal defense fees, which are now running at more than $600 million annually.

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Death Penalty on Hold

November 1, 2007

US supreme court calls a halt to executions

Death penalty campaigners yesterday said they expected the informal moratorium to last at least until next summer when the supreme court is expected to issue its ruling.The moratorium follows a decision by the supreme court on Tuesday night to block the execution of a Mississippi inmate minutes before he was to be put to death. Earl Wesley Berry, who has been on death row for 19 years for the murder of a woman, had been served his last supper and was 15 minutes away from execution when the court intervened.

The order for a delay marked the third time in just over a month that the supreme court has overruled state courts and the US court of appeals to block an execution.

Death penalty campaigners yesterday called the successive rulings a powerful sign that the supreme court wanted to put executions on hold while it considers a challenge to the way executions are conducted in America brought on behalf of a prisoner in Kentucky.

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