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Stents vs. drugs for heart disease treatment

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Heart stent
An undated photo shows the drug-coated Taxus Express Paclitaxel Eluding Coronary Stent System.
AP Photo/Boston Scientific

A recent study on coronary artery disease claims that the process of inserting stents to repair a narrowed artery has no benefit over standard drug treatments.

Dr. David Brown, the senior researcher on the study, said the moneymaking aspect of inserting stents may be part of what's driving doctors to perform a potentially unnecessary procedure. 

"There are at least 500,000 of these procedures done every year at $20,000 a piece," he said. "That's $10 billion spent on these procedures. If you could reduce that by even a half you'd be saving $5 billion and that's certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

Brown will be joining The Daily Circuit Wednesday to talk about the study. Dr. Chet Rihal, interventional cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, will also join the discussion.

What happens when money comes into play with our healthcare choices and how does it affect the treatment options for patients?


Rick Bosacker on Facebook: "As a doctor, I am excited about this discussion and how our industry is backwards with its incentives. I'm disappointed that the guests seem to indicate that it is up to 'the payers' to change the industry. Does this mean that we as providers should be excused for not providing 'value' because it isn't paid for? I'm proud to work for an organization that is doing their part to change the industry by proactively pursuing 'value' from the patients perspective proactively. We are actively working with patients and payers to help define value and change payment methodologies. If you are concerned about lawyers, politicians or big pharma/technology making your health decisions for you, encourage your doctor/clinic to partner with you to pursue 'value.'"


Although this new research is out, doctors are hesitant to start following it.