Believe it not pushing mesh implants can win you a prize trip to Brazil!
Marion Scott of the Sunday Mail and Daily Record investigates a contest among mesh recruiters with a prize for the highest number of mesh recruits of a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Laptops were also offered to incentivize patient signups.
Dr. Athele Khunda was the winner and he was sent to the Brazilian city and urged to enjoy the sights. The labor Health Secretary Neil Findlay called it “like a TV game show where the stakes for patients could be ending up in a wheelchair or crippled for life.” He called for a cessation of the program and a full ethics investigation.
Scotland’s former Health Secretary Alex Neil suspended the sales of pelvic mesh last June after hearing horror stories from women who are part of Scottish Mesh Survivors. At the time he said he felt this was just the tip of the iceberg. See background story here.
Aberdeen University was offering the incentives as part of a health trial that recruited patients and was supported by grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The clinical trial will need to recruit 650 women to compare two different mesh slings – a single-incision mini-sling (SIMS) and a TVT-O (transvaginal tape obturator). The TVT-O has been found to be defectively designed by two U.S. courts. More than 100 have already been enrolled. The winner of the competition, Dr. Khunda and his team, gathered the highest number of participants for the clinical trial.
In a newsletter from the South Tees Hospitals congratulating the winners, it was announced that “future competition with prizes of free places to International Continence Society March 2015 in Aberdeen and laptop prizes will be announced soon.”
For its part, the British Medical Association says doctors should never be influenced by gifts or promotional incentives.
Scottish Mesh Survivors
One of the Scottish Mesh Survivors says, “This is an apt description that I agree with from my co-petitoner Elaine Holmes on the SIMS Patient Information content and the incentives that surround the current SIMS trial.
“There is no mention to patients that the device they get will be ‘mesh’ it is referred to as special tape. They are not told that TVM ‘mesh’ has been suspended by the Scottish Government pending a safety inquiry. They are not told that when they are randomised to receive a device (a) Bard Ajust single incision mini-sling (SIMS) is not the first of its kind, it is based on an earlier predecessor which was a big failure, if they don’t get that then they may get (b) TVT-O, a device that has twice in recent months found to be defectively designed in a US court of law. But there are big prizes to be won: Brazil, Laptops and others, yet to be revealed – all very exciting. Oh, forgot to mention, this is not for the lowly plentiful participants/patients/guinea pigs – we will refund your travel expenses by way of a thank you for allowing us to experiment on you. And after all our hard work who could begrudge us a wee jolly to Brazil.#
The Daily Record, December 7, Marion Scott, Mesh Surgery Scandal
This is the link to the SIMS study patient information leaflet: