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Sunshine Act & Health Advocacy Groups: The Sociopathic Business Model™

Sunshine Act & Health Advocacy Groups: The Sociopathic Business Model™

Updated May 7, 2015

Patient victim group, Essure Problems, rallied against the makers of Essure, Bayer Healthcare on May 4, 2015 at this year’s ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) Meeting held at Moscone Center San Francisco, to educate the physicians responsible for the implantation Bayer’s Essure. Thank you @shinyangie for sending along this tip:

In trying to do a fair and balanced story ABC 7 followed the standard news formula for a medical device protest rally:

Patient victim/qualified professional to defend the victim’s cause against the company

“After I got implanted, I contacted my doctor and said something is wrong,” one protester said.

“It turned into a daily stabbing pain and it turned into chronic fatigue and joint pain and migraines,” said Tiffany Fenimore, a mother of four children.

“It works too well sometimes. It causes a chronic inflammatory response in the tubes, which causes pain, pain in intercourse, irregular bleeding,” said doctor Julio Novoa.

Successful patient/qualified professional to defend the company’s position 

“I actually was taking birth control pills and had a blood clot and could not stand hormones, so I needed some sort of contraceptive,” said Katie MacFarlane.

“The Essure just seemed the easiest and I’ve had it for five years and not a single problem.”

At Bayer, we support the product extensively,” said Edio Zampaglioni, a spokesperson for Womens Healthcare Bayer Pharmaceutical. “We believe we’re doing everything we can to offer support to health care provider and patients themselves.”

RED FLAGS:  Reporter Lyanne Melendez at the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) Meeting where there were presumably hundreds of non-Bayer paid doctors to speak on the benefits of Essure but she only spoke to a Bayer paid mouth-piece.  Would no other doctor not go on camera supporting Bayer and their Essure product? Or did the reporter even try to find someone non-Bayer paid to speak positively about the product and procedure? If that’s the case it should have been stated that “other physicians declined to speak…” Katie MacFarlane*, who was attending the ACOG meeting (lanyard from video indicates she was a guest) and owns consulting firm SmartPharma LLC where Bayer is not a client but a client of her competition**  and did not disclosed this information cost all credibility for Bayer, Essure and their supportive patient and actually only positively validates Essure victims complaints. 

SmartPharma LLC  a consulting firm


Usually there’s a link from a LinkedIn page to a website to the company which is absent from Katie MacFarlane’s page to SmartPharma LLC a consulting firm (clients)  Smart Pharma Consulting  (clients

The idea that Lyanne Melendez liked and retweeted this tweet is a pretty good indication to the question I asked.  Good job #EssureProblems!

*As a consultant myself I view the non-disclousure of any conflicts of interest as unethical and why I would personally not work with or advise a client to work with Katie MacFarlane or the company she owns SmartPharma LLC.  Each person reading this should make the best decisions for their families based on all the facts. 

**Bayer is a client of Smart Pharma Consulting the competition to SmartPharma LLC who does not currently list Bayer as a client.  But the lack of consulting disclosure does negatively impacts Essure victims. 

I am not a paid consultant for Essure Problems, Bayer Healthcare or SmartPharma LLC.  I am a former medical device rep with a degree in Broadcast Journalism who now writes about fraud and unethical companies with emphasis on healthcare and startups with the goal of protecting and informing patients, consumers, employees and taxpayers alike.

Updated: April 10, 2015

Patient & Health Advocacy Groups are often nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


Patient advocacy network Wego Health Solutions claims:

About 25% of patients do not feel connected to the companies that make the medications they depend on for one key reason: They do not see themselves in the marketing with which brands expect to reach them. Medical Marketing & Media

PRSpin: Wego, cultivates a network of patient influencers on behalf of pharma firms.

PRSpinUnSpun: A patient advocacy network funded by pharmaceutical money.

Updated:  April 2, 2015

Report claims FDA is behind the times on employees’ free speech

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy group, has released a report claiming that the FDA does not measure up to other federal agencies when it comes to freedom of speech or social media policies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Well that seems so nice that a group of scientists are concerned about the freedom of speech for (huh?) social media? Why would scientists of a nonprofit care?  The Union of Concerned Scientists a nonprofit has an annual operating budget of $25 million of which $16 million comes directly from memberships (wow I think Country Club memberships cost less an you at least get to golf or play tennis).

Which industry cares about what the FDA has to say when it comes to social media and freedom of speech? Big Pharma and Medical Device and who does that industry employ? Scientists.  Wonder how many of the members who pay for memberships are on the boards of Big Pharma & Medical Device boards or CEO’s or founders in the industry. Anyone else seeing a possible conflict of interest?

More importantly advocacy groups are used to deceive the general public who think they are in place to protect patients and consumers but they’re out to protect the special interests of industries while using freedom of speech regarding social media policies as a manipulation of the facts.

September 17, 2014


#a lightening rod directly to the fraud


Two weeks from now the much anticipated CMS (Medicare/Medicaid) data on what physicians were paid by the healthcare industry are to be released.  As this site has already pointed out many physicians are not happy about the release and the public knowing just how in the pocket some are of some of the big industry titans.

Why Do We Need to Know? 


According to WSJ Pharmalot 64 health advocacy groups are asking to eliminate an entire category of data from what patients can read regarding physician payment from big pharma and lil device.

CMS Open Payments Data as it relates to payouts 

CMS Asked to Eliminate Some Payments From Sunshine Database – Pharmalot – WSJ

The group of patient-advocacy, industry and professional organizations, including the National Health Council and the American Diabetes Association, urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a Sept. 10 letter to exclude from its database indirect payments to doctors made by device and drug makers via these groups. Groups like the ADA receive donations from drug and device makers, in turn pooling and distributing funds to physicians and research institutions.

Gawd, I love this-nothing like giving the people a lightening- rod directly to the fraud-what are these organizations hiding? Well at least we all know where to look first, right?!


And really, what health advocacy group wouldn’t want patients to have the most information to make the best decisions based on facts? Well, ones that are funded by big pharma or device.  That’s inconsistent & contradictory language to action and a tactic from The Sociopathic Business Model™. Groups are often created as off-shoots of a main company to “appear” objective, you know, like an advocacy group?  In Startup The Egos I explain that every “founder” as an ode to their own greatness feels the need to create a meeting or forum; and, my former company Acclarent was no different when Josh Makower Acclarent Co-Founder created a forum known as The Sinus Forum.  Once Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon purchased Acclarent they changed the name to The Open Forum and is now funded by a group known as Fiero.  This is what’s known as a shill shell.

The Sinus Forum to The Open Forum

I do not know if Fiero is one of 64 health advocacy groups; but, I do know that Wendy Oakes who headed The Sinus Forum at Acclarent is the same Wendy Oakes Executive Director at Fiero and that Dr. Peter Catalano and Dr. Ray Weiss who were on the Acclarent Advisory Board prior to the purchase in January 2010 are the same Dr. Catalano and Dr. Weiss on the  Executive Committee at Fiero, that clearly isn’t a coincidence, is it?

The point of that demonstration was to show that not everything is what it appears and just because a health advocacy group goes by that name doesn’t mean it’s not funded by a large corporation in some shape or form or Forum as it were. I bet if reporters did some digging from that list of 64 health advocacy groups the earth could tilt of its axis with the information uncovered. Which is why we (as patients, consumers, and taxpayers) need to put pressure on CMS not to cave to the special interest groups, errr I mean health advocacy groups.  They shouldn’t even be allowed to use the advocacy unless they disclose where all their funding comes from (oh that’s right-that’s what they’re currently trying to squash). Noticing a trend where less than ethical people are hiding behind a good word like health advocate to advance their own agenda.

What surprises should we expect? 

I would encourage every patient to look up their doctor on the list when (if) made available and cross-reference with your drug or implant list. Not to incite a witch hunt, but if you see more than 60% of your medications, implants or treatments coming from a lists where the physician is compensated by a pharmaceutical or device company-I’d start looking for a new doctor. You’ll not find one that isn’t paid by somebody for something; but, a good rule is the less they’re paid by a big industry the most likely the more ethical they are as a physician. The choice is yours on if you think ethics translates to “good doctor” or not.  I do know from personal experience as a device rep that physicians on the high end of the payment scale get a reputation in the industry as “bought” and reps hate dealing with these doctors who expect you to pay for everything from hunting trip to their kids tuition at pricey private school; and, that’s despite the Sunshine Act being in placeImage what it was like before? 

And all one needs to do is strike TCT 2014 into Twitter to elicit such gems from doctors calling out device companies on the disregard for the Sunshine Act:

TCT 2014 SunShineAct


TCT 2014 SunShineAct 2


Updated After the release of Sunshine information:

Sunshine Acts Rays of Sunshine: Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Ethicon Case Study | KILLING MY CAREER

Sunshine Act Reveals Pharma & Device Paid out $3.5 Billion to Physicians: How Much Was Paid to Media? | KILLING MY CAREER

1 Comment
  • Dr. Diana Zuckerman whose National Research Center for Women and Children received a $50,000.00 grant from the FDA, yes…the FDA, not long ago comes to mind. Her family owns a lot of J&J stock, works with fellows from the Robert Wood Foundation and runs roughshod over a lot of patient advocacy groups, including the Union if Concerned Scientists. Before I earned the ire of Dr. Zuckerman, Truth in Medicine the patient advocacy group I founded to help mesh injured patients, was one of those groups. She went ballistic when I insisted Dr. Raz be the speaker at a Capitol Hill briefing in May 2011 because he was going to say the wor . “Vagina” and because he has an accent. She tried to stopbit from happening at all, despite TIM paying her organization $7,000.00 to handle the logistics and get the staffers to attend.

    April 3, 2015 at 9:33 pm

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