Thursday, October 06, 2011

Puncture (The Movie) Starring Chris Evans

Over the years, there have been a handful of groundbreaking movies that address a variety of topics of interest to people within the diabetes community. For example, there was "Supersize Me" (2004) and "Fast Food Nation" (2006) which addressed how obesity is frequently driven by the prevalence of fast food. However, many people never patronize fast food joints, although these films did help pave the way for more critical exposes of the nation's industrial food supply system and its adverse effects on the nation's health. King Corn (2007) addressed issues with America's most overly-subsidized food crop and the adverse effects it has on such unrelated areas like beef production today, or Food, Inc. (2009) which shed light onto our less-than-pretty industrial food supply system, and of course, Michael Moore's SiCKO addressed the fact that not only does the U.S. have the world's most costly healthcare system, but we also have the highest percentage of individuals left completely out of this system thanks to runaway costs and non-universal insurance coverage (although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should help to address that major hole starting in 2014).

On September 23, 2011, another movie called "Puncture" opened in select cities, and is expected to open on a national basis this weekend. As Metro NYC described it: "At first blush, the words 'health care industry' and 'thriller' seem like two terms that should never be in the same sentence together." In essence, the movie is loosely based on the true story of two struggling young lawyers, Michael Weiss and Paul Danziger, who were hired by an eccentric inventor/manufacturer to find out why he couldn't sell his remarkable, lifesaving safety syringe to U.S. hospitals. The real case was actually settled before trial for $150 million dollars.

It began when a nurse who, while dying of AIDS due to an accidental needle stick went to two lawyers proposing a lawsuit. The accident could have been avoided if the hospital carried safer, single-use needles with protective sheaths. But hospitals refused to carry the device because of their long-standing relationships with big medical device suppliers brokered by so-called group purchasing organizations (GPOs).

In the process, the film reveals that in order to sell to many big hospitals, startups have to effectively bribe GPOs with financial kickbacks to hospital bigwigs which enables the existing suppliers to basically keep other suppliers out of the hospital supply chain altogether. In fact, the inventor of the new device was barred from even showing it to hospital purchasing agents. The lawyers discovered a very corrupt arrangement between monolithic hospital purchasing cartels and a big needle maker, in which the industry giant was able to pay millions in kickbacks to the cartels to make sure its less safe products — and only its products — were used in hospitals. They also found that these cartels, known as hospital GPOs, effectively blocked the introduction of all kinds of innovative medical products, not just syringes, costing the U.S. healthcare system over $37 billion each year. For the record, Metro NYC also reports that GPOs are now a $100 billion/year business in the U.S. today.

I have not seen the film personally, but with a cast including "Captain America" hottie Chris Evans who plays character Michael Weiss (who's character is actually a drug addict) and Mark Kassen who plays Paul Danziger, this film might be worth seeing, and on a broader level, revealing how much business is really transacted in the U.S. today, painting a slightly different picture than politicians would have us believe, and raising new questions about just why healthcare in the U.S. remains so incredibly expensive.

Check out the movie trailer at

1 comment:

Michael said...

Thanks for the pre-review scott. You made me really want to see it although I'll probably wait for the DVD (haven't gone to a theater for years.