Soaring Medical Costs Pinned on Medical Devices

Merrill Goozner

First published 6/07/11 in The Fiscal Times

While squabbles over the rules for approving new medical devices rarely attract much attention outside the insular world of manufacturers, regulators and medical professions,  a fight is brewing that could have a major impact on efforts to control health-care spending.

The device industry has launched an aggressive campaign to avoid tighter Food and Drug Administration rules that would help generate the information needed to show whether newer devices are actually superior to the ones they replace. The latest devices – from heart valves and defibrillators to artificial knees and hips – are usually significantly more expensive than older devices, and the intense marketing surrounding the introduction of new devices has become a major driver of rising health care costs.

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