Boston Scientific Corp. recalled 85,000 Taxus drug-eluting stents as well as 11,000 of its bare-metal stent systems due to a problem with balloon deflation during coronary angioplasty procedures. The problem can result in serious complications, including death or the need for coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The company said it received reports of one death and 18 serious injuries associated with balloon deflation for the Taxus and two deaths and 25 serious injuries in the Express2 bare-metal system. The action followed the July 2 recall of 200 Taxus stents for the same reason. The company has shipped more than 500,000 Taxus stent systems and 600,000 Express2 stent systems. The recall does not affect patients who have already received the stents as the problem is with the delivery system at the time of insertion, Boston Scientific said. As a result of the recall, the company postponed the July 19 announcement of its second quarter financial results and said it expected to reverse sales by $45 million.
Scruggs' suit add defendants
Cleveland Clinic Foundation, New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, were swept into the wave of class-action lawsuits brought by Mississippi plaintiffs' attorney Richard Scruggs and others on behalf of uninsured patients. In separate filings in federal courts in Louisiana, New York and Ohio, the healthcare systems were charged with "victimizing" the uninsured patient plaintiffs by failing to provide charity care, while allegedly "reaping enormous cash windfalls from their tax-exempt status." The lawsuits accuse the three systems of requiring uninsured patients to pay "sticker price" for services, far more than the discounted rates paid by most privately insured patients and their insurers. Since June 17, 31 such class-action lawsuits have been brought against not-for-profit organizations controlling about 300 hospitals in 17 states. More suits are expected, Scruggs said. New York-Presbyterian officials said it was premature to comment on the specifics without having seen the lawsuit, but they intend to defend the system vigorously.
Wholesale prices up in June
Wholesale prices for general acute-care hospitals rose 0.1% in June, after a 0.3% increase in May. Meanwhile, wholesale physician prices rose 0.2% in June, after a 0.1% decline in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Producer Price Index. The PPI measures the average change over time in prices received by domestic producers of goods and services. In contrast to hospital and physician prices, the PPI for all finished goods fell 0.3% in June. Hospital prices were 4.8% higher than 12 months earlier, and physician prices were up 2% over the period.
Mass. may pass universal care
The Massachusetts Legislature completed the first stage of passing a constitutional amendment that would require the state to guarantee all residents access to "comprehensive, affordable, equitably financed" health insurance covering "all medically necessary preventive, acute and chronic healthcare and mental-care services." The earliest the amendment could be adopted is 2006, since it must clear the Legislature in the next session as well, before being put on a ballot for voters to accept or reject. The Massachusetts Hospital Association supports the amendment philosophically but has concerns that its long life cycle could impede incremental steps to improve coverage, a spokesman said. Illinois once considered a universal coverage amendment but it was defeated at the polls, and North Carolina has a similar proposal pending.