AG Eric Holder & his Physician Wife Dr. Sharon Malone: A CMS Open Payment Case Study
January 5, 2015
This site has written a lot about healthcare fraud in the last 12 months and we shouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon because sadly fraud did not disappear with the New Year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Systems (CMS) Open Payment or Sunshine Act where pharma/device makers disclose financial payments to physicians is a step in the right direction to exposing fraud earlier and may even serve as a deterrent for future crimes. The media/journalists don’t know how to digest this data but there should be a story in the news everyday exposing the high cost of healthcare and all they have to do is dig a little.
Since last writing about Sunshine Act/Open Payments in September 2014 CMS made the system easier with one noticeable exception-the ability to quickly pull up how much an entire practice at a specific address made from pharma/device makers. It’s important to look at the data in the proper context was the argument of many physicians who wanted to block the data from mass release and by that same assertion it’s why we need to look at the entire practice.
Here’s an example from everyone’s favorite PAID Ethicon Consultant and now former FDA panelist Dr. Andrew Brill. This will also provide the context so many physicians were worried about not being explained properly to the dim masses (she typed sarcastically).
Remember: this payment only reflects the last five months of 2013 (how’s that for context?)
As discussed in yesterday’s post, we’ll see less of the single shingle doctor and those choosing to remain in private practice will add more partners to help defray the high overhead of running a practice in a down-turned economy. While partners make their individual salaries remember a portion of what’s earned is put back into the practice and why the CMS website must also allow for users to pull up data by practice and or address as well.
From a rep or company’s perspective physicians are notorious for two things: not wanting to use their own money for anything and are typically not efficient at running a business. This isn’t a slight in that most of us want our physicians to treat us and not do our taxes. Companies were also aware of this fact and certainly exploited it. (Although it’s a bit of a chicken/egg situation).
The Wall Street Journal reported that Dr. Andrew Brill received over $150,000 in several years from Ethicon
Doctors like Dr. Brill often refer to themselves as “whales” and many of us in the industry (and likely outside the industry) refer to him as a”whore” aka Whorible Doctor.
Earlier in my career working as a pharmaceutical rep, when reps were able to give out pens and note pads, I had several doctors tell me they never paid for office supplies and told their staff as part of the hiring package they’d provide lunch daily. What they were really saying is that they were too cheap to buy office supplies and expected a drug rep to provide office supplies and lunch for their office staff every single day. I’d like to say it was rare but that attitude to some degree was pervasive throughout the industry for decades.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s very accomplished wife Dr. Sharon D. Malone, MD, FACOG
As with every industry there are good and bad and we tend to remember the stories that offended and insulted us the most. I foolishly thought things would be different when I transitioned over into medical device sales-ahh wrong. When selling trauma plates and screws I took over a territory from someone who wasn’t exactly ethical-or actually at all ethical. One of my surgeons paged me (yep-pre text era) with a 911 (obviously an urgent page).
In drastic comparison to Dr. Andrew Brill’s CMS Open Payments for the same time period
and specialty (OB/GYN) Dr. Sharon Malone’s are just as suspect but for the opposite reason.
I was shocked that the emergency was that his wife’s birthday was coming up and told the expectation was continue what my predecessor started-paying for his wife’s birthday dinner (at the most expensive restaurant in town at the time-Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician-since closed) via my credit card (as point of clarification my company did not offer expense accounts or reimburse for expenses) and in his next breath I was also told the previous rep used to also take him to “tittie bars.” (Charming man, huh?) I lost his business and something that companies don’t understand is that the company never had that doctor’s business-as the business was always for sale and always would be.
I’d also like to say this behavior left the industry but that’s not the case. A friend, still in the industry, called me a few weeks ago and explained a situation where the surgeon demanded on the phone (and-on voice mail and in text-brilliant) that the company pay for his office holiday party or else he’d pull his business to the competition. That’s the kind of information that really needs to be reported to CMS.
Dr. Malone’s Associates at Foxhall OB/GYN reflect similar payments
In fairness to Dr. Malone there’s not a job she could have that wouldn’t be a conflict of interest with what her husband Attorney General, Eric Holder, does since it’s been pointed out to me (like it needed to be) by a very unlikely source that there’s a lot of different types of fraud I could write about and “not just Johnson & Johnson, Melayna.” In developing The Sociopathic Business Model™ it’s helped me realize that I write about what I know-my former industry, startups and fraud and Johnson & Johnson put that target on their own backs with their pathological unethical and illegal behavior.
Notable exception: Dr. Richard Beckerman no CMS data reported
Fact based evidence over time in conjunction with working through The Sociopathic Business Model ™ has also taught me that if we don’t force accountability by continuing to expose the facts from two corrupt entities the DOJ (ahem yep that’s still you Mr. Holder) and my former industry of pharma/med it’s our only hope as U.S. taxpaying citizens to create positive change. (Wake up media and journalists and start asking questions and not just cutting and pasting press releases).
Notable exception: Dr. Renée Stany no CMS data reported
Mr. Holder what has the government done with the $2.2 billion collected from Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal fraud case? And when will the government intervene and protect the women being harmed by corrupt OB/GYNs and device companies like Johnson & Johnson? Just as Dr. Andrew Brill’s CMS data shows unethical behavior it’s also tough for someone in the industry to look at Dr. Sharon Malone’s CMS data and who she’s married to and not think there’s great influence over what’s going wrong in the industry. Holder’s FDA needs policing (morcellators and mesh) and new investigations need to be opened where the public decides who sits on the FDA panels and not the pharma/medical device industry.
Open Payments Explorer: How Much Industry Money goes to Doctors and Teaching Hospitals is another source that shows the breakdown per device sold. More to come on that one!