It’s awkward. How entangled do universities want to get with businesses like Millennium?

A federal grand jury in Boston is investigating Millennium Laboratories of San Diego, a fast-growing private company selling urine drug testing services to pain clinics across the United States.

The company not only is under investigation by the Justice Department for allegations of health care fraud but also for intimidating former employees, one who was portrayed in a slideshow at a company meeting as a corpse in a body bag…. [It is also accused of] getting doctors to order unnecessary urine tests [-- the testing, amid an epidemic of pain pill use, reveals whether patients are abusing the drugs --] and charging excessive fees to Medicare and private insurers.

I mean, nothing wrong with industry money, but you do want to keep an eye on the particular representatives from industry offering it.

Millennium sales tactics [it is alleged] included a chart showing doctors how much they could boost their own income by increasing the number of urine drug tests they ordered. For instance, a $15 payment to test for one drug could balloon to about $800,000 a year if 20 people a day were tested and each urine sample was tested for 11 drugs, the chart said.

It is a beautiful synergy, when you think about it. Keep prescribing the pain pills — the medical profession almost has the entire American population on them — and then, concerned at the shocking escalation in their abuse, make your patients pay for urine tests. It’s funny to think about how America’s hundreds of thousands of pill mills will be giving the test to make sure their customers are taking their Oxy and Roxy. If you’re in the urine testing biz, like Millennium, you get them coming and going, as it were.

So, you know, a very becoming business altogether, and if you’re Duke or Washington you might want to keep an eye on the Justice Department proceedings and ask if you want to continue whitewashing the reputation of these outfits.

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2 Responses to “‘Millennium and its founder say they gave $2 million to the University of Washington in 2010 to study pain … and $250,000 to a Duke University professor in April to host “a business summit on ethical practices in the medication monitoring industry.”‘”

  1. Bernard Carroll Says:

    This looks like a new business model for MDs… kickbacks for unnecessary testing. It comes on the heels of kickbacks for unnecessary or preferential prescribing. Especially appalling, it hardly raises eyebrows any more. As for the universities, let them recall the saying ‘when you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.’

  2. Mr Punch Says:

    This is a whole different company from the much bigger and better-known Millennium Pharmaceuticals, of course.

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