One reason that Big Pharma would like to get rid of the Affordable Care Act is a provision known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.This law has allowed the public to see how much they are paying physicians in order to get them to prescribe their products, even when these products have been proven to be dangerous.Among the worst offenders is Bayer, which according to Pro Publica's “Dollars for Docs” database, has paid out well over $2 million to gynecologists for prescribing the Essure contraceptive device since the watchdog organization started tracking said payments.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Bayer’s largesse is an Indiana gynecologist and obstetrician, Dr. Cindy Basinski. A recent story from CNN reports that Bayer paid Basinski a total of $168,068 for “consulting fees and similar services” starting in August 2013 until December 31 of last year.
According to the report, 80% of the payments Bayer made to Indiana physicians went into Basinski's pocket – and nationwide, she was the second-highest paid recipient, one of three whom received in excess of $100,000 for touting Essure.
Dr. Basinski admits to having received Essure-related payments since at least 2008 but was unable to recall the amounts. She told CNN, “My best guess is that early on it was very minimal, $5,000 to $7,000 a year.” Despite the fact that thousands of women have reported suffering injuries from Essure, ranging from uterine perforation and chronic pain to pelvic inflammation, Basinsky stands by her belief in the safety and efficacy of Essure. She says she will continue to prescribe the device until it is removed from the market.
That day is not long in coming. Bayer has announced that it will “voluntarily discontinue U.S. sales” of the Essure contraceptive device at the end of this year. It has nothing to do with concern for human health and safety. The fact is that Essure sales have plummeted.
Stubbornly continuing to stand by what records clearly demonstrate is a dangerous and defective product, Bayer blames “inaccurate and misleading publicity about the device” for the decline in Essure sales. Last year, Essure was banned in Brazil, Finland, and the U.K.Although no official action has been taken here at home, G.O.P. Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania has been spearheading a battle to get Essure’s premarket approval status (granted by the FDA in 2005) revoked and the device taken off the market.
As for Dr. Basinsky, she insists that Bayer’s generous payments to her have had no bearing on why she continues to recommend Essure to her patients. “I will say that I do not feel that it influenced me at all in any way,” she told CNN.
She may “feel” that way, but a number of university studies have found evidence to the contrary. Physicians are more likely to prescribe a product when the manufacturers offer them “payments” to do so.Let us just call those “payments” what they are: legalized bribes.