Episode from the podcastRelentless Health Value

EP310: The 2020 Shkreli Awards for the Worst Examples of Profiteering and Dysfunction in Health Care, With Vikas Saini, MD, and Shannon Brownlee

Released Thursday, 18th February 2021
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The Shkreli Awards have been published each year, for the past five years and counting, by the Lown Institute. The Shkreli Awards are a much-anticipated top 10 list of the worst examples of profiteering and dysfunction in health care. This year’s list, celebrating the most excellently egregious profiteering in 2020, are unique in the sense that everybody on this list this year—every one of them—decided, deliberately, that a pandemic might be a super opportunistic global stroke of luck to exploit fear and anguish to line their own pockets.
The list is named for Martin Shkreli, the price-hiking “pharma bro” that is easy to point to as a model of pure, unadulterated health care profiteering. Here’s the point: Just because you can be clever and shifty enough to make a whole lot of money in health care doesn’t mean you should. Every dollar anyone earns without adding commensurate value back is just one more nail in the financially toxic coffin that patients and employers face in this country—and taxpayers.
The Lown Institute is a nonpartisan think tank advocating bold ideas for a just and caring system for health. Their work is centered around four main topics: low-value or unnecessary care, accountability, health equity, and the human connection.
In this health care podcast, I am looking so forward to speaking with Vikas Saini, MD, and Shannon Brownlee from the Lown Institute about this year’s Shkreli Award winners. (I wish I had a soundtrack of audience clapping. I’d cue it right now.) There are 10 winners, and we talk about most of them in this episode.

You can learn more by connecting with Dr. Saini (@DrVikasSaini) and Shannon (@ShannonBrownlee) on Twitter. 

Vikas Saini, MD, is president of the Lown Institute. He is a clinical cardiologist trained by Dr. Bernard Lown at Harvard, where he has taught and done research. He has also been an entrepreneur as scientific cofounder of Aspect Medical Systems, the pioneer in noninvasive consciousness monitoring in the operating room with the BIS device. He was in private practice in cardiology for over 15 years on Cape Cod, where he also founded a primary care physician network participating in global payment contracts.
Dr. Saini is board certified in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, and nuclear cardiology. He has served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, where he initiated the first course focused on policy translation for cardiovascular disease prevention.
In April 2012, Dr. Saini convened the Avoiding Avoidable Care Conference with the noted author Shannon Brownlee. This was the first major academic conference focused on the problem of overuse of health care services. Dr. Saini led the international writing group of the Right Care series of papers commissioned by The Lancet and published in January 2017. With Ms. Brownlee, he is a convener of the Right Care Alliance, a grassroots network of physicians, nurses, patient activists, and community leaders dedicated to creating public demand for care that is safe, effective, affordable, and just.
Dr. Saini has spoken and presented research about avoiding unnecessary care at professional meetings around the world and has been quoted in numerous print media and on radio and television.
Shannon Brownlee is senior vice president of the Lown Institute. She and Lown Institute President Dr. Vikas Saini are cofounders of the Right Care Alliance, a network of activist patients, clinicians, and community leaders devoted to organizing a broad-based movement for a radically better health care system. Before joining the Lown Institute, Brownlee served as acting director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation. As a senior fellow at New America, she published the groundbreaking book, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making U…, which was named the best economics book of 2007 by the New York Times.
She was a senior writer at US News and World Report and Discover Magazine and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Congressional Commendation, and was named one of “four writers who changed the world” by the World Congress of Science Journalists. Her stories and essays have appeared in such publications as The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Times of London, Time, New Republic, Los Angeles Times, BMJ, The Lancet, and Health Affairs. Brownlee is a nationally recognized speaker, has been featured in several documentary films, and has appeared on such broadcast outlets as ABC World News, Good Morning America, Fox News, NPR, and The Diane Rehm Show and is quoted regularly in the press. She is the author of several peer-reviewed articles in medical journals and has served on numerous scientific panels, working groups, and roundtables. From 2014-2016, she was an editor of the “Less is More” section of JAMA Internal Medicine and was a lecturer from 2011-2014 at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
She is currently a member of the boards of the Robert Graham Center of the American Academy of Family Practice and Families USA and is a visiting scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Brownlee holds a master’s degree in marine science from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
02:51 “COVID was like … just a glare of x-ray that revealed everything … going on in the health care system.”
05:14 “There’s always profiteering whenever there’s a buck to be made.”
05:33 Is profiteering in the health care system deteriorating?
06:07 How did the winners of the 2020 Shkreli Awards get chosen?
07:18 “The categories that this falls into is really the stakeholders in health care.”
08:11 What did Connecticut internist Steven Murphy, MD, do to earn his place at #8 on the awards list?
09:29 How did big pharma companies (some of which have been developing COVID vaccines) like Pfizer get on the Shkreli Awards list?
11:16 “We do have to start asking some hard questions about who is supposed to benefit from the … public funding that goes into these kinds of products—vaccines and drugs.”
12:49 “The thing about private equity … is that the business model really is profiteering in health care.”
19:43 Why did the federal government win the first place in the Shkreli Awards?
24:13 “Most of this is not illegal. It’s merely unethical.”
26:56 “There really is a radically better health care system that’s possible, but we’re not really going to get there if people are shy about talking publicly about some of these issues.”

You can learn more by connecting with Dr. Saini (@DrVikasSaini) and Shannon (@ShannonBrownlee) on Twitter. 

@DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“COVID was like … just a glare of x-ray that revealed everything … going on in the health care system.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“There’s always profiteering whenever there’s a buck to be made.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
How did the winners of the 2020 Shkreli Awards get chosen? @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“The categories that this falls into is really the stakeholders in health care.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
How did big pharma companies (some of which have been developing COVID vaccines) like Pfizer get on the Shkreli Awards list? @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“We do have to start asking some hard questions about who is supposed to benefit from the … public funding that goes into these kinds of products—vaccines and drugs.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“The thing about private equity … is that the business model really is profiteering in health care.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
Why did the federal government win the first place in the Shkreli Awards? @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“Most of this is not illegal. It’s merely unethical.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering
“There really is a radically better health care system that’s possible, but we’re not really going to get there if people are shy about talking publicly about some of these issues.” @DrVikasSaini and @ShannonBrownlee discuss the 2020 Shkreli Awards on our #healthcarepodcast. #healthcare #podcast #digitalhealth #valuebasedcare #profiteering

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ID
85004919
Episode Number
310
Visibility
visible
Podcast ID
24193

Episode Details

Length
30m 3s
Explicit
No
Episode
310
Episode Type
Full

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