Since then, in the last 16 days, the following stories about secrecy have appeared on Health Care Renewal:
- Louis Sherwood, A top Merck executive, now retired was accused of trying to intimidate physicians and researchers who had publicly questioned the safety of Merck's Cox-2 inhibitor Vioxx, now withdrawn from the market, or whether data about Vioxx was being withheld. (See post here.)
- A Pfizer executive who had spoken out publicly in favor of drug re-importation charged that the company shut down his cell phone and email. (See post here.)
- After Guidant found out that one of its models of implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) had a defect that may cause them to fail, it kept the flaws a secret until the company found out that the NY Times was writing an article about the problem. (See post here.) It similarly concealed flaws in two other models of ICDs. Finally, it shippped old ICDs with the inventory out of inventory without notifying their recipients that the company had started making improved version without the flaw. (See posts here and here.)
- CIGNA threatened a physician author with legal action because he published a satirical piece in a humor magazine. The threat was based on a provision in CIGNA's contract with the physician's hospital that forbade "disparaging" language. (See post here.)
- Kaiser-Permanente sued a former employee for revealing in a blog that the managed care organization had posted real patient data on a web-site being used to develop an electronic medical record. (See post here.)
- Eli Lilly filed one of its sales representatives after he published a book detailing his exploits prior to working for Lilly as a "slacker" sales representative for Pfizer. (See post here.)
These 16 days demonstrated the continuing threats against transparency and openness in health care. They also demonstrate that many threats come from leaders of large health care organizations who don't like information that puts them in a bad light made public. Yet how will we improve health care without access to information about what is going wrong, and opinions about what do to improve things?