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Are consulting fees to surgeons appropriate

Consulting fees to surgeons are entirely appropriate


Consulting fees to surgeons are often bribes in disguise

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Christian Veillette
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  1. Jun 21, 2009

    There is no doubt that many surgeons who have collected fees from industry have provided worthwhile services or created valuable intellectual property.

    But there are some other things to consider:

    1. Given that surgeons often control the decision regarding which prosthesis is used (though higher costs do not affect them), it would be in the best interests of firms to earn the affinity of surgeons with higher-than-deserved consulting fees. In other words, forgetting for a moment the particular facts involving a particular doctor, in the abstract, the incentives seem to favor what some may call "bribes"

    2. Where is the progress? If firms have paid tens of millions in consulting fees, where are the fruits of the work? Do the innovations in arthroplasty justify those costs?

    3. Tiger Woods might have "invented" a new driver or sand wedge, but the real value to the firm manufacturing that golf club is not necessarily Tiger's insights but the ability to market it as such. Similarly, 'thought leading' surgeons who have developed new devices may have been paid, at least in part, for their marketing oomph. And while that payment is certainly not a bribe, it is not strictly a developer's fee either.