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Bringing Bad Things to Life The alliance between GE Medical Systems and NY- Presbyterian Hospital Martin Donohoe.

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Presentation on theme: "Bringing Bad Things to Life The alliance between GE Medical Systems and NY- Presbyterian Hospital Martin Donohoe."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bringing Bad Things to Life The alliance between GE Medical Systems and NY- Presbyterian Hospital Martin Donohoe

2 The Partners NY-Presbyterian Hospital one of the largest academic health care institutions in the U.S. one of the largest academic health care institutions in the U.S. GE Medical Systems Subsidiary of General Electric Subsidiary of General Electric $9 billion annual revenues $9 billion annual revenues

3 The Agreement (2003) 10-year, $500 million agreement requires NYP to purchase products and services from GEMS in exchange for purported discounts on medical supplies and the promise of enhanced technological standardization and simplification

4 General Electric Ranked by Forbes as world’s largest company (based on equal weighting of sales, profits, assets, and market value) 2008 revenues of $156 billion Close to the GDP of more than 2/3 of U.N. member states Close to the GDP of more than 2/3 of U.N. member states 2010 net after-tax profits of $14 billion $5.1 billion from U.S. operations

5 General Electric Makes household appliances, lighting, and medical equipment Plastics division, which produced bisphenol A, spun off in 2008 Plastics division, which produced bisphenol A, spun off in 2008 Has built 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries (including the troubled Fukushima Daishi plants in Japan) Produces jet engines and military hardware

6 General Electric Charles Wilson (CEO of GE pre- and post- WW II; helped oversee U.S. military production during WW II): “The revulsion against war…will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome. For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy.” “The revulsion against war…will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome. For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy.”

7 General Electric Operates coal-burning power plants Major releasers of toxic mercury Major releasers of toxic mercury Operates a large financial services group Lending accounts for > 30% of revenue, vs. 30% of revenue, vs. < 6% of revenue from consumer appliances Responsible for over 50% of company’s profits in recent years Responsible for over 50% of company’s profits in recent years Owns a multi-billion dollar media empire Including NBC (49%, Comcast – 51%), Telemundo, and Universal Studios Including NBC (49%, Comcast – 51%), Telemundo, and Universal Studios

8 GE’s History Conducted unethical human subject experiments on prisoners, involving testicular irradiation, from 1940s to 1960s Intentionally-released excessive radiation from its Hanford, WA nuclear reactor in the 1980s, to determine how far it would travel May have contributed to increased thyroid cancers, hypothyroidism, and spontaneous abortions in “Downwinders” May have contributed to increased thyroid cancers, hypothyroidism, and spontaneous abortions in “Downwinders”

9 GE’s Record Sued radiologist who brought to light dangers of GE’s contrast agent, Omniscan Causes nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (FDA black box warning) Causes nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (FDA black box warning) Ordered to pay $11.4 million to Bracco Diagnositcs for falsely/misleadingly claiming that its x-ray contrast agent Visipaque was superior to BD’s Isovue

10 GE’s Record America’s largest corporate polluter 116 Superfund sites nationwide Approximately 13 in NY

11 GE’s Record Between 1947 and 1977, two of its capacitor manufacturing plants dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River Probable human carcinogens with adverse effects on liver, kidney, nervous system, and reproductive organs (EPA) Probable human carcinogens with adverse effects on liver, kidney, nervous system, and reproductive organs (EPA) 200 mi of Hudson Superfund site 200 mi of Hudson Superfund site

12 GE’s Record Has spent millions to avoid Hudson cleanup and to weaken or eliminate Superfund Law Contributes to corporate front groups Promulgate an anti-scientific and pseudo- scientific agenda Promulgate an anti-scientific and pseudo- scientific agenda Conduct media disinformation campaigns in an attempt to weaken health and environmental regulations Conduct media disinformation campaigns in an attempt to weaken health and environmental regulations

13 GE’s Record Signed licensing agreement with Cornell Medical School in 2001 re CT scan technologies to screen for lung cancer Cornell Research Foundation funding primarily from the Vector Group (parent company = Liggett = tobacco company) Antonio Gotto (Cornell Medical School Dean) and Arthur Mahon (Vice Chairman of Colleg Board of Overseers) on Foundation’s Board of Directors

14 GE’s Record Dean Gotto stated Cornell publicly disclosed the Vector Group’s role in funding the Foundation However, searches via google and Cornell’s own search engine turn up no such disclosure, and Cornell’s press office did not respond to inquiry re the original disclosure However, searches via google and Cornell’s own search engine turn up no such disclosure, and Cornell’s press office did not respond to inquiry re the original disclosure Foundation funded EL-CAP study (NEJM), which concluded that screening asymptomatic smokers for lung cancer can detect curable tumors Controversial finding, contradicted by other studies Controversial finding, contradicted by other studies

15 GE’s Record Vector Group/Liggett’s role as funding source not mentioned in original article, in violation of conflict of interest disclosure policy Patents and royalties from GE technology not noted either Large profit potentials for GE (increased screening) and Liggett (reassured smokers less likely to quit) For references, see content/uploads/2008/05/elcap-vector-cornell- coi-bioethics-listserv-posts-4-08.doc content/uploads/2008/05/elcap-vector-cornell- coi-bioethics-listserv-posts-4-08.dochttp://phsj.org/wp- content/uploads/2008/05/elcap-vector-cornell- coi-bioethics-listserv-posts-4-08.doc

16 GE’s Record Tremendous influence of environmental, energy, and health policy Spent over $25 million on federal government lobbying in 2009 (#2 after Exxon Mobil) $200 million over last decade $200 million over last decade Many members of board of directors have government ties; others have insurance and pharmaceutical industry ties

17 GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt 2009 compensation = $5.5 million Named “World’s Best CEO” in 3 separate Barron’s polls On Board of NY Federal Reserve Bank

18 GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt 2008 – Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME Magazine Appointed by President Obama to his Economic Recovery Board GE then became eligible, via a loophole, for ¼ of the $340 billion Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (debt support) GE then became eligible, via a loophole, for ¼ of the $340 billion Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (debt support)

19 GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt Appointed by Obama as Chair of his outside panel of Economic Advisors and of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness On the board of directors of “The Robin Hood Foundation”!

20 GE’s Record Has eliminated 150,000 jobs in last 15 years While receiving billions in federal contracts and millions in state and local subsidies While receiving billions in federal contracts and millions in state and local subsidies One of nation’s top out-sourcers of jobs 1/5 of U.S. workforce eliminated since 2002 (while overseas workforce increased) 1/5 of U.S. workforce eliminated since 2002 (while overseas workforce increased)

21 GE’s Record Executive pension plan far more generous than for other employees Continues to shift health care costs onto workers, despite growing profits

22 GE’s Record Cited by Human Rights Watch for “systematic workers’ rights violations” in the U.S. and abroad 858 OSHA workplace citations from Investments include for-profit prison enterprises

23 GE’s Record GE has sponsored PGA Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Club excludes women Club excludes women CEO Immelt a member CEO Immelt a member

24 GE’s Record Topped 2002 Project on Government Oversight’s list of repeat offenders for defrauding U.S. taxpayers Paid more than $982 million in fines, judgments, and out-of-court settlements between 1990 and 2002 Paid more than $982 million in fines, judgments, and out-of-court settlements between 1990 and 2002 Financial services division fined $100 million for unfair debt collection practices and bankruptcy court malfeasance Financial services division fined $100 million for unfair debt collection practices and bankruptcy court malfeasance

25 GE and Corporate Taxes GE topped the list of corporate tax break recipients from : $9.5 billion in tax breaks $9.5 billion in tax breaks Claimed tax benefits of $3.5 billion in 2010 Under investigation for tax evasion in Brazil Tax department has almost 1,000 employees (known as the “world’s best tax law firm”)

26 GE’s Record In 1990s, Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency created special investigations office specifically for GE Nevertheless, company has been awarded increasingly costly reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan

27 GE’s Record The Patient Channel Shown in hospital rooms throughout country Shown in hospital rooms throughout country Advertising vehicle for drug companies Advertising vehicle for drug companies Criticized by JCAHO for manipulative marketing practices Criticized by JCAHO for manipulative marketing practices

28 GE’s Record Produces an electronic medical record, Centricity EMR Is hoping to receive some of the $19 billion earmarked for health care information technology in the current economic stimulus package.

29 GE’s Record Named “America’s Most Admired Company” by Forbes Named one of the “World’s Most Respected Companies” in polls conducted by Barron’s and The Financial Times

30 Concerns About the Agreement Provides GE with financial incentives to promote high technology purchases Hospital prohibited from purchasing more effective equipment from other companies

31 Concerns About the Agreement Augments trend in academic medical centers to promote the use of expensive, high-technology care at expense of preventive care and public health measures Highly reimbursable Highly reimbursable Services may be redundant in certain locations Services may be redundant in certain locations

32 Concerns About the Agreement Occurs at time 51 million Americans uninsured Academic medical centers promoting luxury primary care clinics and seeking wealthy overseas patients while cutting back on services to the un- and under- insured

33 Concerns About the Agreement Academic medical centers becoming increasingly corporatized Research exclusivity contracts Research exclusivity contractsSecrecy gag clauses skewing of research agenda

34 Concerns About the Agreement I contacted the CEO of New York Presbyterian Hospital and the head of the Ethics Department to obtain more information re the agreement and the nature of the discussion preceding the agreement No Response No Response

35 Concerns About the Agreement Patients with developmental anomalies and cancers caused by GE’s pollution diagnosed with GE scanners and treated with GE- manufactured therapeutic devices, increasing GE’s profit

36 A macabre twist on “cradle to grave care”

37 Solutions NY-P should cancel agreement Health care providers and organizations should condemn this unholy alliance Medical and ethical organizations should develop standards regarding future agreements

38 Reference Donohoe MT. GE – Bringing Bad Things to Life: Cradle to Grave Health Care and the Alliance between General Electric Medical Systems and New York- Presbyterian Hospital, Synthesis/Regeneration 2006(Fall);41:31- 3 (abridged version – complete version available on website)

39 Contact Information Public Health and Social Justice Website


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