Commoditized Medicine: Does It Hurt The Quality of Health Care in America

In my interview with our resident health care expert Jeff Knott, who is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Navigating The Healthcare Maze,” which airs live across the Blog Talk Radio Network on Thursday October 14th at 8:00 PM EST, I talk about two Ottawa families who are suing a well-known fertility doctor over allegations his clinic used the wrong sperm during their fertility treatments.

While events such as these are usually the ones to grab the biggest headlines, the story of the wayward sperm in reality points to what is likely a much bigger problem . . . what I would call the commoditization of medicine.

By referring to a couple’s efforts to conceive a child as the utilization of “reproductive technologies,” fertility clinics have taken on a department store persona in that they are offering the latest and greatest gadgets along the lines of flat screen televisions and theater-like surround sound systems.

I of course am not alone in this assessment or view as demonstrated by a recent essay based on the 1985 book “The Dialectical Biologist” in which authors Richard C. Lewontin and Richard Levins present the argument that “modern science has been fully incorporated into the process of capitalism, and is subject to the same conditions as any other commodity.”

Lewontin and Levins go on to say that “Modern science is a product of capitalism. The economic foundation of modern science is the need for capitalists not only to expand horizontally into new regions, but to transform production, create new products, make production methods more profitable, and to do all this ahead of others who are doing the same.”

Given the recent scandals in which pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca were found guilty of illegally promoting off-label anti-psychotic drugs, and the more recent disclosures that GlaxoSmithKline intentionally withheld critical research findings which warned that their controversial diabetes drug Avandia created an unacceptably high risk for heart attacks, it would not be unreasonable to take the position that the capitalization of health care means that profitability takes precedence over patient well-being.

Alternatively, one might also conclude that life saving, innovative procedures such as Endovascular treatment or Liberation treatment which is designed to clear the venous blockage that is associated with a condition known as Chronic cerebro spinal venous insufficiency, and therefore may be beneficial to patients of Multiple Sclerosis, is encountering roadblocks in terms of receiving approval simply because it is not a revenue producer to the same degree as the aforementioned Avandia.

Suffice to say, the Jeff Knott interview will likely create as many questions as it does answers, and in the process hopefully provide some important guidance in terms of patient options whether looking to give live or preserve it.

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