End Result

Sept. 1, 2008

By Barbara Goode

Innovation brushes off gum disease

Photodynamic therapy can destroy bacteria that lead to gum disease. And unlike conventional antibacterial methods, bacteria do not become resistant to PDT. So why not incorporate the technology into toothbrushes?

That was the thinking behind a new design that took the inaugural Kennett Prize for product innovation. The “light brush” is the creation of Adrian Choong, who recently graduated from the product design engineering department at Scotland’s Glasgow School of Art. Choong, 23, worked alongside Ian Watson, a specialist in lasers and optical engineering at Glasgow University, to develop the design.

Click here to enlarge image

Choong was presented a trophy and a cash prize of £2,500 by Jonathan Kennett, founder and executive chairman of the engineering company Teknek (Renfrew, Scotland), which sponsors the prize.

Laser/optics medical patients wooed by discounts

A recent article in The New York Times reported that, while physician associations generally frown upon remuneration of patients to help promote medical services, many cosmetic surgeons now openly offer “thank you” rebates and discounts to patients who post videos of their breast augmentations, bright white teeth, or nose jobs—or are willing to be taped extolling the virtues of their physician.”

As an example, the article cited Dr. Emil Chynn of New York’s Park Avenue Laser, who has provided Lasek patients with DVDs of their surgeries in hopes that they will post the the 10-minute videos on YouTube, along with an endorsement and a link to Chynn’s Web site. As an incentive, Dr. Chynn offers a free Botox injection worth $400 or a $100 discount on the Lasek operation.

The increasingly common practice has raised concerns among medical ethicists and consumer advocates, the article said. Videos—which usually do not disclose the fact that the endorsement is paid—can either be home-grown or produced by marketing companies offering package deals.

The article notes that in one case, a dissatisfied patient (who asked to remain anonymous) posted his video and received the rebate before he realized his results were disappointing. The article quotes the patient as saying, “Regardless of whether I’m happy—that’s not going to stop me from posting. It’s money in my pocket.”

The New York Times interviewed 15 doctors for its article, and reports that none of them saw anything ethically wrong with the discount/rebate practice. Dr. Chynn noted that “it’s really not a conflict of interest,” because the discounts are relatively small.

PDT no cure for cancer

The Irish newspaper The Guardian reports that a former general practitioner, Paschal Carmody, was recently found not guilty on six charges of obtaining money through deception from terminally ill cancer patients. During the heavily publicized, weeks-long trial, the families of three patients said Carmody had claimed the photodynamic therapy (PDT) treatment he was administering would either cure the cancer victims or prolong their lives. Carmody was removed from the medical register in 2004.

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