Monday, January 15, 2007

Marketing Not Fit for a Dog

Maybe it's because my family has adopted two "shelter dogs" that I noticed this story reported here and here by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

To summarize, a neuro-surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic "caused an aneurysm in the brain of a large, mixed-breed dog" to demonstrate the use of a medical device made by Micrus Endovascular Corp, "staged for the manufacturer's salespeople." So, "about two-dozen salespeople watched the demonstration Wednesday at at least some participated in a hands, on exercise.... The dog was anesthetized during the procedure and afterward was killed." Although the surgeon had submitted "an application to the hospital's Institutional Animal Control and Use Committee.... The doctor had not heard back from the committee before the demonstration and wrongly assumed it was OK.... But the [Cleveland Clinic] spokeswomen said the committe would have rejected the request because it does ot allow doctors to use animals for the sole purpose of sales training."

An accompanying editorial, entitled "Death of a Salesdog," in the Plain Dealer noted, "it's one thing to sacrifice animals in the name of legitimate medical research. It's another to do so to promote sales of a product. The clinic neurologist [sic] apparently missed that crucial distinction."

It's just one incident, involving one dog, but it graphically illustrates that when it comes to marketing pricy health care products, common sense and notions of morality seem to go out the window. Have they no shame?

I should also add that although the neurosurgeon's unfeeling actions surely deserve censure, so too do the participation by the Micrus Endovascular Corp. salespeople, and the presumed endorsement of this activity by the company marketers. We should certainly hold physicians and surgeons to high ethical standards, but there also ought to be some ethical standards for the manufacture and marketing of health care devices that are meant to be used in humans (or dogs).


Sigmund said...

I am a scientist and physician who has worked with animals, though mostly smaller ones. I do not think it would be wrong to sacrifice an animal for the purpose of training or an educational demonstration. And the fact that it was training for the sales force of the company that probably funded a lot of the development of the device in question should not be an impediment.

One could make an issue over whether this particular demonstration actually was important to the job functions of the sales personnel. But it probably was important. And the company and the person who runs the lab should be the main judge of that. As long as there is a reasonable connection between what their employees do and the knowledge to be gained from watching the demonstration, then it sounds like a good thing to me.

Like it or not, it is a fact that people who sell medical equipment to physicians need to know a lot about the equipment and processes involved in order to accurately tell the physicians how the products work.

There are many complex issues here regarding the role of an academic medical institution such as Cleveland Clinic. It appears that for public relations purposes the Clinic may have banned that type of animal use. Frankly, I think that such a policy is the real mistake in this case. Certainly there should be a venue where where this could have been approved. Perhaps that venue is not Cleveland Clinic, but if the Clinic is a site for developing and testing this device I don't see why demonstrations should not take place there as well.

It would be unfortunate if regulations are changed to make it more difficult to instruct either doctors or employees of device manufactures concerning many new life-saving devices and techniques. In fact, existing regulations are far too restrictive should be reformed to facilitate the use of animals in research and in the development of medical products and treatments.

Finally, if my nephew visits my lab and wants to see how I dissect the brains from mice and I have an extra mouse on hand....

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh (sadly) at the typical propaganda from Sigmund the scientist/physician.

Experiments on random source animals (in other words, pound dogs and cats)are of NO SCIENTIFIC USE to humans.

This is why their use has declined so dramatically!

There are no genetic controls, or controls of any nature! Disease, impairment, etc all destroy any kind of scientific usefulness or credibility whatsoever.

And, needless to say, a dog's biological system is not the same as a human's.

Relying on results from any procedure or experiment using random sourse animals is extremely dangerous

Of course, that does not stop the lazy, impaired, and greedy in our science/medical communities who are trying to line their wallets based on pseudo-research

And endanger us all!

Anonymous said...

I might also add that the dealers who buy and sell these animals are some of the most criminal people in this country.

Many have stooped to stealing pets to deal in this dirty trade.

A recent documentary by HBO titled DEALING DOGS examines the behavior of just one of these dealers.

They all are similar.