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Father Greed: Vanishing Ventilators and Free Enterprise Public Health.

Posted on | April 1, 2020 | 2 Comments

Philips Respironics “Trilogy Evo”

Mike Magee

If you wanted to sum up President Trump’s two key messages this week, they would be: 1) A lot of people are going to die, and 2) Thank God for free enterprise public health.

On both counts, he is on thin ground. Numbers of deaths could far exceed the 240,000 he apparently now finds acceptable. And…not unrelated, Father Greed has firm control over America’s Medical Industrial Complex, paralyzing the critical supply chain with deception and profiteering.

Case in point (outlined in detail in a ProPublica March 30th exclusive investigation), the “disappearing Federal ventilator.”

Here are the basic facts:

  1. In 2006, HHS established a special office (BARDA – Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority) to manage material preparedness for a medical disaster. The agency’s top priority – stockpiling ventilators. By 2008, they set a goal of the large scale purchase of a functional, but not elaborate, ventilator for $2000.
  2. They signed a contract with Newport Medical Instruments for $6.4 million in September, 2010. By May, 2012, the machine was still on the drawing board, and the company was purchased by Covidien, an Irish medical device corporation. Covidien began to raise enough foot-dragging issues to bump up the BARDA offer by $2 million.  But before lifting a finger, they were sold to Medtronic which mailed in designs and then said thank you very much, but goodbye in 2015.
  3. BARDA picked up the pieces and in 2015 signed a $13.8 million contract with a small Pennsylvania manufacturer, Respironics, a subsidiary of Dutch technology manufacturer, Royal Philips, N.V.
  4. In 2019,  they received a green light  to create 10,000 “low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilators” at a cost of $3,280 per unit. The machine was called the Trilogy Evo Universal.
  5. Instead, the Pennsylvania company geared up their assembly line to produce a high-priced commercial model selling originally at a list price of $12,495, and now for $17,154.

With not a single Respironics ventilator in the federal stockpile, who are buying from the “Make America Great Again” Murrysville, Pennsylvania plant?  The government of Madrid bought 10 for $11,000 each last month. Budapest, Hungary has a few as well.

Two other points of interest:

  1. In 2016, Respironics paid a $35 million fine for kickpacks to medical suppliers who bought their equipment.
  2. Jared to the Rescue: Respironics is currently negotiating with Jared Kushner to build 43,000 of the more complicated (and expensive) version of the Trilogy Evo Universal.

If successful, look for a Rose Garden appearance of the Philips Respironic CEO at the next afternoon episode of Trump’s Great  American Catastrophe (airs every day , 5:30PM – 7:00PM).

Comments

2 Responses to “Father Greed: Vanishing Ventilators and Free Enterprise Public Health.”

  1. Stephen Rockower, MD
    April 1st, 2020 @ 11:44 am

    Grifter in Chief
    Also, why did Covidien buy Newport? I understand they had a competing ventilator which would have been more expensive. buying out the competition, maybe???

  2. Mike Magee
    April 1st, 2020 @ 1:19 pm

    A well-worn strategy, if you can avoid anti-trust, is to eliminate the competition by making them an ally vs. a competitor by making them rich. $$$ are usually accompanied by long-term consultant agreement. #codeblue

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