Friday, July 11, 2014
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State of the Union speech.....and Synthes?

Amid the talk of taxes and jobs in his State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned the need for regulations to protect patients from faulty medical devices.

State of the Union speech.....and Synthes?

Regardless of the president or his party, modern State of the Union speeches are weeks in the making and all the federal agencies push to have their efforts reflected or future hopes mentioned. Speech writers account for every word, sentence and paragraph amid internal debates about emphasis.

President Obama's speech Tuesday night touched on big topics like taxes and jobs, but there were three words that probably brought a smile to the faces of investigators with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the numerous other agencies that were involved in seven years of investigation and prosecution of Synthes, Inc., the Swiss-based medical device manufacturer with facilities in Chester County.

Four former Synthes executives went to prison because of their involvement in illegal promotion of bone cement and an illegal clinical trial, in which doctors were provided the cement for use in back surgeries, three of which ended with patients dying on the operating table.

Obama was discussing the need to reign in bankers and financiers who profit from government backing of money, until they don't profit anymore and then seek bailouts from the government, all the while keeping their lucrative pay packages. He also mentioned individuals who somehow thought they could have a fancy home that they couldn't afford.

But the idea extends to other areas, including health care, where the government - through Medicare, Medicaid and other programs - often pays the bills.

"Let's never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same," Obama said, "It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

"We've all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn't afford them. That's why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don't destroy the free market. They make the free market work better."

David Sell
About this blog
David Sell blogs about the region's pharmaceutical industry. Follow him on Facebook.

For Inquirer.com. Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Reach David at dsell@phillynews.com.

David Sell
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