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January 27, 2015

Mayo looks to attract more patients from China

To take advantage of the rapidly growing medical tourism market, Mayo Clinic has deepened its relationship with a Hong Kong firm to bring more Chinese patients to Rochester.

Medisun Holdings Ltd. announced Monday it has signed a collaLogoborative deal to "Ensure efficient referral of patients" to Mayo Clinic. The agreement also calls for Mayo Clinic "to provide health care consulting services to aid Medisun’s work" in Hong Kong and mainland China.

This will allow Mayo Clinic to enlarge its patient pipeline from China. It has added a Web page in Mandarin Chinese and has hired interpreters, the article notes. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increasing numbers of Chinese residents are going overseas "in search of treatment that is either unavailable or ineffective in China."
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Mikel Prieto, medical director of Mayo Clinic's international office, told the Wall Street Journal that "China, probably of all countries, is the one where we see the greatest growth right now."

Melissa Goodwin, Mayo Clinic's manager of global referrals, told China's Caixin Media this summer the number of Chinese people going to Mayo has climbed to 200 in 2013. That's up from just 30 in 2008 and 100 in 2012. She estimated that number would reach 400 by the end of 2014. 

H3-treesDetails of the new Medisun/Mayo Clinic arrangement still are being hammered out, according to Dr. Jason Zhang, of Medisun.

Zhang did confirm that a $1 million office being built in Titan Development and Investments's new H3 Plaza complex on South Broadway will house Medisun's Rochester operations. It's being built under the name Alphaomega Healthcare, though Zhang said he expects it to eventually change to Medisun.

He explained the office will be used to support Chinese patients traveling to Rochester for treatment.

"The medical service will be provided by Mayo, and everything else will be provided by Medisun," Zhang said.

The Medisun office is expected to open in March or April in the west corner of H3 Plaza at 300 S. Broadway, he said. The office will occupy parts of the second and third floors of the seven-story complex, which is being developed by Titan's Andy and Gus Chafoulias.

“Consulting with Mayo Clinic, and leveraging Medisun’s top-quality medical institutions in Hong Kong … Medisun’s experienced medical team will facilitate access to Mayo Clinic’s world-class model of care in order to provide patients in China and Asia with superior medical services,” Medisun's Chairman Danny Wong said in Monday's announcement.
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Wong visited Rochester this summer in connection to his company's investment in Cardio3 Biosciences. Cardio3, a Belgium company with deep business and scientific ties with Mayo Clinic, is negotiating a lease deal with the City of Rochester for the fifth floor of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center.

While in Rochester, Wong had his photo taken at the clinic with local leaders, including Gus Chafoulias and Mayo's Lisa Clarke, who leads the Destination Medical Center initiative.

Wong recently showed his interest in Rochester by buying two large estates here. On Oct. 31, he bought an estate at 2515 Crest Lane SW for $1.4 million. Wong followed that up by buying a Pill Hill house at 615 10 Ave. SW for $1.31 million.

January 20, 2015

Rochester's Maple Manor sold for $3.5 million

The Blum family's history has been interwoven with Rochester's Maple Manor Health Care and Rehabilitation since its doors opened in late 1964. 

That changed last week, when Pat Blum retired after 36 years as an administrator, and the family sold the nursing home at 1875 19th St. NW for $3.5 million. Pritok Capital of Skokie, Ill., purchased Maple Manor. Pritok now owns seven small senior facilities across the country, including one in St. Cloud.

"It's time to step aside, but it's a sad goodbye," said Blum. "I have mixed feelings obviously. You're talking about moving on from something that has really defined me for 50-plus years of my life."

MaplemanorIt all started when Pat's parents, David and Dorothy Blum, with the help of their six sons, began managing the facility on the first day its doors opened. In fact, the whole family lived and worked there for a year as it was getting going.

"It was all hands on deck back then," said Pat Blum, laughing as he remembered telling school friends that he lived in a nursing home. "Nursing homes used have a lot more families involved in running them."

After he graduated from college and earned his administrator's license, Pat began working at Maple Manor in 1978. His parents retired in 1981.

A new administrator, Karl Swedberg, took the reins last week. He has known the Blums professionally for 17 years and is familiar with Maple Manor.

"We're really excited to be in Rochester. I don't expect any big changes immediately for residents or the staff," Swedberg said.

Maple Manor has more than 100 full-time and part-time employees on staff.

"This is a good match for us. They really 'get' it," Blum said of Pritok.

Pritok is coming into the Rochester market during a senior living building boom, with several new facilities, such as River Bend Assisted Living and The Waters on Mayowood, opening and almost all of the existing ones in the area expanding. Being near Mayo Clinic makes Rochester very attractive to the more than 77 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.

While the Blums are no longer involved with Maple Manor, that doesn't mean they are done with senior care. In 1981, the Blum brothers realized when residents were discharged, "They weren't getting enough support," Pat said. That drove them to start Comfort Health, one of the first home health-care programs in the area.

The family still owns Meadow Lakes Senior Living in Rochester and Prairie Meadows Senior Living in Kasson. Pat still has responsibilities at Comfort Health, which is run by his brother, Chris Blum. Another brother, Pete Blum, still handles the finances of Meadow Lakes and Prairie Meadows.

"I'm still working toward being totally retired," Pat said. "The irony is that my wife just recently graduated as a nurse."

January 15, 2015

Roch. start-up licenses virus to pharmaceutical giant

An international pharmaceutical giant has signed a deal to license a cancer-killing virus from Rochester drug company.

MedImmune, which is owned by London-based AstraZeneca, is licensing a genetically engineered strain of the vesicular stomatitis virus from Omnis Pharmaceuticals. Omnis is a Rochester start-up founded by Dr. Stephen J. Russell, Dr. Kah-Whye Peng, Shruthi Naik and Mark Federspiel, who all work at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. A fifth founder, Glen Barber, is based at the University of Miami.

The companies now will collaborate to combine the Omnis virus with a check point inhibitor created by MedImmune. The goal is to eventually create a treatment for types of cancer affecting the liver, but potentially could be developed to treat a broad array of cancers.

"For us, it's a very big and very important step forward," Omnis CEO Russell said. "Essentially, we have AstraZeneca/MedIummune saying, 'We love this lead product of yours. We want to pick it up, cover the development costs and run with you to bring it to market.' That's a huge accelerator for this development program."

He explained that oncolytic viruses, similar to the one MedImmune is licensing from Omnis, have been found to be effective in destroying cancer cells. Many companies, in the U.S. and internationally, are working on their own treatment based on viruses.

"That's why they're excited about this virus. They can inject it directly into a tumor and kill tumor cells. That wakes up immune system, which adds to the attack," Russell said. "Then if you get the check point inhibitor antibody, the hope is that will lead to major tumor destruction."

This collaboration could mean a lot to Rochester. The US cancer vaccine market was estimated in 2012 to be worth about $14 billion. With about 1.5 million Americans being diagnosed with cancer every year, that market could possibly grow to reach $20 billion by 2020.

While the companies declined to release any financial details of the deal, it's clear the upfront payment portion of the agreement has given Omnis a boost to pursue its own goals, parallel to MedImmune project.

"Our obsession, if you like, is to develop viruses that could be given as systemic intravenous anti-cancer therapy," Russell said.

This virtual start-up, which was founded in late 2013, is "based" on the first floor the Minnesota BioBusiness Center in downtown Rochester in the facilities of Imanis Life Sciences.

Imanis is a related company that was founded by Russell, Peng and Dennis E. Young. It launched in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator on the second floor of the building and soon leased 1,736-square-feet of space for its offices and a "wet lab." Imanis makes genetic tracking agents for use in medical research. It also does medical imaging and conduct experiments for clients.

Russell said while Omnis has a lot of potential to break new ground scientifically, Imanis is the more likely candidate to grow into a economic driver and job creator in Rochester.

"That company (Imanis) will probably grow to occupy a fairly large footprint. This company (Omnis) is less likely to arrive at that point," he said.

In 2015, Peng said, "We hope to build it faster to up to 30 to 50 people as we do more manufacturing. We hope to be able to keep it in downtown Rochester. This is our home."

The group also has a third virtual start-up company called Magnis Therapeutics, which is working on a cancer treatment based on the measles virus.

Having three companies with names that end in "-nis" seemed like a good idea at first, said Russell with chuckle. But now, he admits it might be a bit confusing.

January 07, 2015

Cardio3 buys cancer-fighting firm for $10 million

Cardio3 BioSciences, which works closely with both Mayo Clinic and the City of Rochester, has paid $10 million for the oncology division of a New Hampshire firm.

The Belgium-based Cardio3 agreed to pay Celdara Medical $6 million in cash and $4 million in new shares for the division called OnCyte. Celdara could receive up to $50 million, if its lead product in-development CM-CS1 hLogo_cardio_3its specific development and regulatory milestones.

The same type of payments for milestones could also reach $21 million per product for others in the pipeline. If CM-CS1 reaches market and net sales top $1 billion, Celdara will receive up to $80 million in payments from Cardio3.
OncyteCM_png
This is Cardio3's second acquisition in recent months. In November, it purchased a virtual company called CorQuest Medical Inc. Corquest is developing a sheath to provide a minimally invasive way to insert therapeutic devices. The CorQuest technology platform is complementary with Cardio3’s C-Cathez and C-Cure systems. Financial terms were not released.

The OnCyte expands Cardio3's reach beyond regenerating cardiac tissue by entering into the rapidly growing immuno-oncology cancer treatment area using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. OnCyte's CM-CS1 uses (CAR) technology to destroy cancer tumors. The Federal Drug Administration has cleared CM-CS1 to begin a clinical trial using patients with acute myeloid leukemia /advanced myelodysplastic syndrome and multiple myeloma. Juno Therapeutics, Amgen and Kite Pharma and others are developing products based on this concept.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy described acquiring OnCyte as “Our first foray into an area that is of very high interest… It opens a new reach, a new broad area of growth for the company that is of very high value to us and our shareholders.”

Those shareholders include Mayo Clinic, which held 3 percent ownership of Cardio3, as of Aug. 4. Mayo Clinic first acquired equity in Cardio3 in 2007, when it licensed stem cell research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. The cardiopoiesis technology uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue.

When announcing the acquisition, Homsy said that four of Cardio3's top shareholders supported the move. A Belgium family-owned holding company called Tolefi SA is the lead shareholder with 32.23 percent of the shares. The Hong Kong-based Medisun, which is building an office in Rochester, owns 8.08 percent.

In the years since 2007, Mayo Clinic has developed a close working relationship with the Belgian company. Mayo Clinic is leading the U.S. clinical trial of Cardio3 and is using a lab in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

A possible deal is in the works for Cardio3 to occupy the entire fifth floor of the city-owned Minnesota Biobusiness Center. Gary Smith of the Rochester Economic Development Inc. said the company has not signed a lease yet and some financial details still need to be worked out.

If Cardio3 does decide to occupy the fifth floor, Mayo Clinic will need to move its staff that currently fills the space.

December 18, 2014

Mayo, former exec settle lawsuit

Mayo Clinic has withdrawn its trade secret lawsuit against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of Mayo Medical Labs, as part of a settlement agreement.

The settlement was reached Wednesday, and Mayo Clinic withdrew "with prejudice," meaning it cannot pursue the matter again.

5480ab685c6ed.imageCockerill denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, as he has since the case began in October.

“Although preserving his integrity and professional reputation is of great importance to Dr. Cockerill,” said Nancy Vollertsen, one of Cockerill’s attorneys at Lindquist and Vennum, "the distraction and expense of further litigation became too burdensome for Dr. Cockerill and his family.”

Bryan Anderson of Mayo Clinic also issued a statement about the settlement this morning.

"Mayo Clinic did not take this action lightly. However, we firmly believe that legal action was necessary to protect our confidential and trade secret information against improper disclosure," the statement says.

As part of the settlement, Cockerill agreed not to work or consult for Mayo’s largest competitors for two years. He also agreed to return all information he took from Mayo Clinic and pay a portion of Mayo Clinic's legal expenses.

In October, Mayo Clinic filed suit against Cockerill, of Rochester, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. The suit alleged Cockerill covertly accepted a job in June with Quest Diagnostics, a major competitor of Mayo Medical Labs. He had told Mayo Clinic he was retiring at the end of September to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. On Oct. 1, he took the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer at Quest.

Mayo Clinic soon filed the lawsuit, alleging Cockerill had misrepresented his departure and had left with clinic-owned memory sticks with data downloaded from his work station. A restraining order was granted that prevented him from working at Quest. The order claimed he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic by working there.

Earlier this month, Cockerill officially resigned from Quest. He had worked for the New Jersey-based multibillion dollar company only from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14.

In a statement from his lawyers following the settlement, Cockerill said he "maintains that he was a loyal Mayo employee throughout his employment and had no intention of harming Mayo, where he had worked for over 30 years and which employs several members of his family. He was dismayed that Mayo did not offer him the opportunity to explain his actions but instead summarily sued him for presumptive misuse of confidential information, forcing him to expend considerable resources to defend his integrity and professional reputation.”

Mayo Clinic defended taking the unusual step of filing a very public lawsuit.

"We understand that our staff members move to other organizations, and, when they do so in a transparent manner, we can cooperatively manage any conflicts-of-interest during their transition, and we can protect our confidential and trade secret information,” it said in a statement.

December 04, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec resigns from Quest, but lawsuit continues

The doctor being sued by Mayo Clinic for allegedly stealing trade secrets has resigned from his job at Mayo competitor, Quest Diagnostics.

CockerillDr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs, resigned from his position as vice president and chief laboratory officer with Quest on Wednesday, according to Nancy Brostrom Vollertsen, a Minneapolis attorney representing him.

His acceptance of that job on Oct. 1 spurred Mayo Clinic to file a lawsuit against Cockerill alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. Cockerill officially worked at Quest only from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14. On Oct. 14, Olmsted County Judge Robert Birnbaum granted a temporary restraining order preventing him from working, because he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic.

Quest filed a motion to withdraw from the case on Tuesday, since it "…No longer has a 'substantial interest' in this litigation that justifies or requires its continued participation." Mayo Clinic issued a statement Thursday saying it had settled with Quest in the wake of Cockerill's resignation.

"Mayo is not pursuing any claims against Quest. We continue to pursue our remaining claims (against Cockerill) to protect our confidential trade secrets against improper disclosure," according to the statement released by Bryan Anderson.
08-18 Frank Cockerill 2 ols
While Quest is no longer a factor in the case, the Mayo Clinic's lawsuit again Cockerill continues to move forward. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 22 in Olmsted County Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Cockerill covertly accepted the job in June, but he told Mayo Clinic that he was retiring at the end of September to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. From June to September, he continued to work at Mayo Medical Labs, attending confidential meetings and negotiating contracts. The complaint filed by Mayo Clinic also claims that Cockerill was in communication with Quest throughout his final months and he left with clinic-owned memory sticks with data downloaded from his work station.

On Oct. 1, he stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer with New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc., a multibillion-dollar public company.

Cockerill released a statement through his attorney in response to Mayo allegations that said, "He opted for early retirement at the Mayo Clinic's invitation and is not subject to any non-compete or other agreement that would limit his activities after leaving Mayo."

He filed an affidavit in November, which was later withdrawn, that stated that Cockerill was "confused and disappointed" by Mayo Clinic's legal action against him. It also stated that he did not tell Mayo Clinic leaders about his plans, because he "feared retribution against himself and his family."

Mayo Clinic responded that Cockerill's case was different than other executives who have left to work for competitors.

"… We understand that our staff members move to other organizations, and, when they do so in a transparent manner, we can manage any conflicts-of-interest during their transition, and we can protect our confidential information and trade secrets," stated Mayo's Anderson by email. "Dr. Cockerill was not transparent and did not report his conflict of interest."

November 21, 2014

Farrell's Bodyshaping to double up in Rochester

Things are shaping up for a second Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping studio to launch in Rochester.

Owner Doug Schminke plans to bookend the city with a new location at 4206 U.S. Highway 52 North to counterbalance his southwest studio. It'll be located in the commercial center anchored by Harbor Freight Tools on the U.S. 52 Frontage Road, according to Farrell's Manager Jeff Wagner.

RochesterfarrellsexteriorThe real estate deal was brokered by Darci Fenske, of Paramark Real Estate.

The new northwest studio is expected open by Jan. 24, when Farrell's winter session of its 10-week program kicks off, said Wagner. 

"We're continuing to grow. It has always been our goal to have locations on both sides of the city," he said.

The first Rochester Farrell's opened in 2011 at 1300 Salem Road S.W. in the T.J. Maxx & More Plaza. It now has more than 350 members and hosts nine classes, six days per week.

Wagner says the studio will be very similar in size to the current one. He expects a few more instructors will be added to the existing team of about 20 to cover the additional classes.

Farrell's, which is based in Des Moines, Iowa, uses kickboxing for a cardio workout, resistance bands for strength training and a nutrition plan to transform people. The workout sessions run 45 minutes.

November 14, 2014

Ex-Mayo doc "feared retribution against himself and his family"

It has been an interesting week in the Mayo Clinic vs Dr. Franklin Cockerill legal tussle. So Cockerill's lawyers filed a motion Wednesday to modify the temporary restraining order that blocks Cockerill from working for Quest Diagnostics PLUS a detailed affidavit from Cockerill explaining his side of the case.

So the PB court reporter Kay Fate printed out the documents for me on Thursday and I wrote an article based on the filings last night. The twist here is that Cockerill's legal team withdrew the filings Thursday, after we printed them out.

The upshot is that my article is still running today in the PB. Here's some of it. The full piece is in today's paper:

A former Mayo Clinic doctor and executive said he did not tell Dr. John Noseworthy about his plans to work for a Mayo competitor because he "feared retribution against himself and his family."

CockerillDr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of Mayo Medical Labs, took early retirement at the end of September. However, instead of retiring, he stepped into a new job on Oct. 1 with Quest Diagnostics Inc.

The clinic filed a lawsuit against Cockerill over his decision to not tell Mayo Clinic he had been hired by a competitor; he told co-workers he intended to run his elderly mother's farming business.

The suit claims he misled everyone so he could acquire sensitive competitive information for his new employer. As part of that suit, a temporary restraining order was issued on Oct. 14 that prevented him from working at Quest because he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic.

Members_009-questCockerill filed a motion Wednesday to modify that order to allow him begin his role as Quest's chief lab officer because the person he is to replace will retire at the end of December. However, his lawyers withdrew the filing on Thursday and also withdrew an affidavit that detailed his version of the events surrounding his departure from Mayo after a more than 30-year career there.

However, the withdrawal came after the Post-Bulletin obtained a copy of the affidavit.

"It is now plain that the draconian restrictions that Plaintiffs obtained from this Court and that Dr. Cockerill had no opportunity to oppose are not consistent with Minnesota law and are entirely inappropriate," according to the original filing made by his lawyers from the Minneapolis firm of Lindquist & Vennum.

Cockerill contends Mayo Clinic had approached him with an attractive early retirement offer as his final two-year term as a department head was coming to an end. When asked for a response, Mayo Clinic denied that.

"Claims of an early retirement offer are completely false, and we were prepared to file documentation to prove it," said Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson this morning.

In his affidavit, Cockerill says he announced his retirement in July, with plans to help his mother, and then he was asked by a Quest recruiter to interview for a position there. He eventually accepted a job with the condition that he work from Rochester, instead of the company's New Jersey headquarters.

Cockerill stressed in his filing he did not make the change to make more money. Mayo Medical Labs is the third largest laboratory company in U.S. and generates "a significant proportion of Mayo's profits." He had made about $580,000 a year at Mayo Clinic. At Quest, he will earn an annual salary of $400,000.

"I left my employment at Mayo reluctantly and only due to the convergence of several factors that arose as I enter the last stages of my professional career," he wrote in the filing. "Finally, in addition to limitation on the role I could still play at Mayo, my interest in the Quest position, and the attractive Mayo early-retirement offer, my decision to change employment was also influenced by my belief that the environment at Mayo had negatively changed over the past five years. Staff satisfaction has declined, burnout has significantly increased, and many people have grown afraid to speak up and voice their opinions."

November 12, 2014

New specialty grocer to build in S.W. Rochester

A new specialty chain is on its way to Rochester, joining an already crowded grocery scene.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, based in Golden, Colo., has filed plans with city to build a 14,000-square-foot store on an open lot in southwest Rochester by the TJ Maxx Plaza and the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center

Get_photoThink Mutual Bank owns the store site, which is at the corner of Greenview Drive and Salem Road Southwest. Think had planned to build there, but recently the bank announced it planned to offer the plot for development.

This will be Natural Grocers first store in Minnesota, though the 59-year-old public company currently operates 84 stores in 14 states, with 10 more expected to open soon.

While it generally is described as a specialty food retailer, Natural Grocers is very different than Hy-Vee, Trader Joe's or Aldi. It sells only organic foods as well as an extensive selection of vitamins and dietary supplements. The chain's website says its stores devote about 30 percent of their shelf space to vitamins, which in turn generate about 30 percent of its revenue.

"It looks like it goes deeper and more narrow than a mainstream grocery store. It is much more like a Whole Foods or a co-op," said Jonathan Seltzer, a St. Thomas University business professor.

Seltzer, who previously worked at the Supervalu grocery chain, doesn't think the addition of Natural Grocers to Rochester should hurt any one retail competitor more than others.

"It will probably draw some customers from many different players," he said.

This new store is just one factor in what is becoming a very competitive grocery scene in Rochester. Discount grocer Aldi is building its second store here and Hy-Vee plans to start construction of its fourth location in early 2015. The city's other food retailers include Cub Foods, Fareway Foods, Zzest, Walmart and Target.

"It seems that you are getting more square footage devoted to food retail in Rochester than the population would warrant," said Seltzer. "That probably speaks to the strength of Rochester's economy and its draw from nearby areas."


Groceries on the way
  * Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is proposing to build a 14,000-square-foot store in southwest Rochester. No projected opening date.

* Hy-Vee is planning to build a fourth Rochester location, a 90,000-square-foot store at 4200 West Circle Drive N.W. The goal is have it completed and open by late summer or early fall of 2015.

* Aldi is building a 17,000-square-foot store, its second in Rochester on the northwest side. The goal is to open in April 2015.

November 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic docs make millions by consulting with drug/device companies

Here's some from the lead article in my package of stories about Mayo Clinic doctors and their financial relationships with drug/medical device companies in this weekend's Post-Bulletin.

FYI, the front page article is continued on page A2 and more articles and data are printed on page B4.

An unprecedented disclosure of payments from drug companies shows that $3.07 million for consulting was paid in 2,388 payments to Rochester-based Mayo Clinic researchers, doctors and hospitals during five months last year.

11082014drugmoneygraphicHowever, Mayo Clinic officials point out that they have a strict policy about such payments, which all must be approved by its Conflict of Interest Committee. Such policies, which many medical centers have, are a way of preventing medical professionals from being unduly influenced by money from drug companies in their decisions, such as what drugs they prescribe.

For the same period, Cleveland Clinic staff collected $4.3 million in private money for consulting, while Johns Hopkins Hospital employees took in a mere $4,627.

Dr. Richard Ehman, vice-chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, said that Mayo Clinic's restrictive policies are unusual within the medical industry.

"We know all of the financial relationships of our staff. That's unheard of," said Ehman.

Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins urge their employees to disclose their private contracts, though they stop short of requiring it in every case, according to their policies posted on their websites. Mayo, Cleveland and Johns Hopkins all agree that a physician or scientist serving as primary leader of a research project are banned from having private contracts with the companies involved.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upHundreds of Mayo Clinic doctors are receiving millions from drug companies and medical device makers for private consulting every year, while many others are paid one-third of the royalties generated by their work.

Disclosing all of the financial contracts between private companies and doctors is the goal of the Open Payments website run by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It features a database of doctors and the money they receive from outside sources. It's now required by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was part of the Affordable Care Act health reform.

In late September, data from August to December 2013 was released on the site. This batch of records includes about 4.4 million payments made to about 550,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals. However, some of the information reported by private companies is incomplete, confusing and, in some cases, incorrect.

For Mayo Clinic doctors, 100 percent of the payments for private consulting go directly to them. Mayo began allowing such consulting contracts in 1999, when it changed the rule that required all consulting payments to go to the clinic.

The payments for those five months show all different types, including royalties, research money and royalties.

In addition to the consulting payments during those five months, a total of 68 payments totaling $3.01 million were made to Mayo Clinic for research, according to the database.

All research money, like grants, goes directly to Mayo Clinic.

However, physicians or researchers receive one-third of the amount of royalty payments received by the clinic from drug companies, according to clinic policy. During the five months of reports, Mayo Clinic received a total of $1.9 million in royalties.

Just one company -- DePuy Synthes Sales Inc., a subsidiary of heath care giant Johnson & Johnson, reported paying a total of more than $1.15 million to Mayo Clinic or its doctors in 278 payments from August to December.

In the wake of the recent federally-mandated deluge of information about the financial ties between doctors and private drug/medical device companies, Ehman explained that Mayo Clinic does allow its employees to personally profit from such agreements. However, every financial relationship must be approved by the Conflict of Interest Committee.

Mayo Clinic approved 1,003 consulting contracts for 308 doctors and researchers in 2013 to personally work with private companies on their own time. The Mayo Clinic committee, which meets every other week, approved 953 such agreements with 301 individuals in 2012 and 1,071 for 292 employees in 2011.