Stanford docs may be too cozy with drug companies (Morning Read)

Highlights of the important and interesting in the world of healthcare:

Stanford docs too cozy with drug companies? As medical schools wrestle with how to keep drug companies from corrupting their faculties, Stanford University often is lauded for its tough stance. But a ProPublica investigation found that more than a dozen of the school’s doctors were paid speakers in apparent violation of its policy — two of them earning six figures since last year.

Spinal fusion (and Medtronic payments) put Kentucky hospital on map. Five senior spine surgeons have helped put Norton Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, on the map in at least one category: From 2004 to 2008, Norton performed the third-most spinal fusions on Medicare patients in the country, reports the Wall Street Journal. The five surgeons are also among the largest recipients nationwide of payments from medical-device giant Medtronic Inc.

Aastrom raises $22.5M for stem cell therapy. Aastrom Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTM) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has raised $22.5 million for general corporate purposes, including research and development expenses for its Phase 3 program for critical limb ischemia, a severe, chronic cardiovascular disease in the legs.


Supreme Court’s vote on health reform tough to peg. As the “individual mandate” provision in President Obama’s healthcare reform heads to the Supreme Court, the votes of the nine court justices may be tough to divine, according to a New York Times analysis.

Abbott, EpiTherapeutics work toward cancer drugs. Illinois drug maker Abbott Laboratories has agreed to work with Danish biotech company EpiTherapeutics to develop anti-cancer drugs by making small-molecule inhibitors against selected epigenetic oncology targets. Terms of the three-year research and development program were not disclosed.

Healthcare adds jobs; doctor offices shed jobs. Healthcare continued to add jobs even as the unemployment rate went up in November, according to a report in American Medical News. However, doctor offices shed employees during the month. There were 500 fewer jobs in that setting in November.

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