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121 posts categorized "Non-profits news"

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 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.

October 23, 2014

Former Flamingo roost to be razed

While Flamingo Bingo is rolling along in its new home in Rochester's Elks Lodge, it soon will be game over for its former home.

The empty building at 2828 U.S. 52 North is slated for demolition by its owner, the Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive Group. Luther filed for a demolition permit this week, though the company has no immediate plans for the property.

10232914flamingobingo"I'm simply taking it down because I just don't want to carry the building through the winter. The roof is compromised," said Linda McGinty, Luther's director of real estate and development. "We just don't have a use for it. When we do develop this site, that was a building that we weren't planning on reusing."

The car dealer bought the 42-year-old building for $950,000 back on Jan. 17. Soon after, McGinty said, "We're working on possible plans. We're just happy to be in Rochester. We're excited to be part of the vibrancy."

Luther also owns Park Place Motors, Rochester's BMW dealership. Since Park Place is nearby, Luther theoretically could use the ex-bingo property to expand Park Place or possibly to introduce a new dealership into the market.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, moved out of the 2828 building in April and into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

It had operated in that building since 2007. Prior to the creation of Flamingo Bingo, it was the home of Circus World Bingo, which raised funds for Rochester's Catholic schools.

October 16, 2014

Accused doctor 'disappointed' by Mayo Clinic lawsuit

A former executive accused of allegedly stealing trade secrets says he's "disappointed" in Mayo Clinic's lawsuit against him, in a statement released by his attorney.

Franklin-cockerillOn Tuesday, Mayo Clinic filed a lawsuit (The complaint is posted here) alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and CEO of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media of Wednesday.

"Dr. Cockerill is disappointed that the Mayo Clinic has made such allegations and publicized its unproven claims in the media," according to a statement released by Nancy Brostrom Vollertsen, a Minneapolis attorney with Lindquist & Vennum LLP, on Wednesday. "Dr. Cockerill holds a stellar reputation in the medical community and has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Community."

The message from Vollertsen also stated that, "We will be filing responsive pleadings in this matter shortly."

The lawsuit alleges that Cockerill covertly accepted a job with a major competitor of Mayo Medical Labs 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.

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. The complaint filed by Mayo Clinic 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 workstation.

“By failing to disclose his conflict-of-interest, Dr. Cockerill’s actions were in violation of Mayo Clinic conflict-of-interest/compliance policies that all staff members agree to on an annual basis, and have put at risk the business strategy of Mayo Medical Laboratories," said a statement released by Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Vollertsen, a former partner with the Dunlap & Seeger law firm in Rochester, responded that there as nothing sinister about Cockerill's departure.

"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," she stated.

Cockerill was a high-profile leader at Mayo Clinic during his about 30 year career here. He was the chief of Mayo Medical Labs as well as the chairman of Mayo's Laboratory Medicine and Pathology department since 2006.

He managed more than 3,200 employees in that role, according to Quest. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually.

Mayo Clinic paid him a total of $591,413 in 2012, according to the clinic's 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

In August, Cockerill officiated the ceremonial ground-breaking of an almost 70,000-square-foot expansion of its Superior Drive Support Center, where Mayo Medical Labs is based.

"His character and high level of integrity speak for themselves," stated Vollertsen.

October 15, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec accused of stealing trade secrets

A former top Mayo Clinic executive is being sued for allegedly hiding his hiring by a competitor of Mayo Medical Laboratories for months while he continued to work for Mayo and for stealing trade secrets.

Franklin-cockerillMayo Clinic filed a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and chief executive officer of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. The case was filed Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media this morning.
 
A Mayo Clinic statement released by Bryan Anderson this morning said, “We do not take this action lightly. Dr. Cockerill was a valued Mayo Clinic clinician, leader and colleague.  We will vigorously defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure we can continue to meet our charitable mission,"

A call to Dr. Cockerill's southwest Rochester residence went unanswered this morning. Asked to comment, Quest Director of Media Relations Wendy Bost said the company received the complaint this morning and is reviewing it. "We do not comment on pending litigation," Bost said.

According to the complaint:

On July 17, an emotional Cockerill told his department that he was "retiring" to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. Co-workers lauded his almost 30-year career with Mayo Clinic and gave him an appreciative send-off that built up to his final day of work on Sept. 30.

All of that changed on Oct. 1. Instead of retiring to Nebraska, Cockerill went to New Jersey to work for a major MML competitor, Quest Diagnostics Inc. He stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer for the multibillion public company.

Using emails as evidence, Mayo Clinic contends Cockerill had been talking to Quest about a job since February. He had a phone interview with Quest in March followed by a face-to-face interview in May, when Cockerill said he needed the time off to help his mother with a business problem. The lawsuit alleges he accepted the Quest position in June. Instead of informing Mayo Clinic, he continued to work at Mayo and attend confidential meetings, where issues were discussed that could cause irreparable damage to MML and Mayo Clinic in the hands of Quest.

Cockerill exchanged emails discussing business strategies with Quest CEO Stephen Rusckowski in August, according to Mayo's suit.

Mayo Clinic alleges Cockerill left with at least seven clinic-owned USB memory drives and that he used four of them to "download information from Dr. Cockerill's computer in the days before … (he) started working for Quest."

Mayo Medical Labs and Quest vie for millions in medical test contracts. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually. Quest says it does 1.5 billion tests a year. Many of the clinical tests conducted by both MML and Quest are proprietary and generate millions in revenue.

The lawsuit also claims Cockerill attempted to recruit "at least one long-term key Mayo employee to consider retiring early to 'consult' with the lab industry," though he did not specifically mention Quest to the female executive.

October 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic books sold to publisher in bankruptcy auction

A New York publisher now owns the rights to nine Mayo Clinic books, including the popular Mayo Clinic Diet book, after buying them and other assets for $1.57 million at a bankruptcy auction.

Skyhorse Publishing and The Perseus Books Group submitted the top bid to buy the assets of Good Books last week. Good Books, which had published the Mayo Clinic Diet book since 2010, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December 2013.

Mayo-clinic-diet“The logistics of this deal were very challenging, and there were many twists and turns, but we found a way to bring the various groups together to make this work for all parties,” stated Skyhorse’s president and publisher Tony Lyons in the announcement of acquisition.

Some industry media reported that Mayo Clinic balked the deal at first. However, it moved ahead when Perseus agreed to pay Mayo Clinic $317,263 to cover past royalties that Good Books had not paid.

"We had a successful relationship with Good Books, as evidenced by the diet book hitting No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and the steady growth of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy," said Mayo Clinic Spokesman Brian Kilen. "We are pleased to be expanding our relationship with Perseus, who is a major publisher with whom we expect to continue the tradition of publishing Mayo Clinic books that provide evidence-based health information to consumers."

The other Mayo Clinic titles that were part of the deal are, Mayo Clinic Diet Journal, The Mayo Clinic Diabetes Diet, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby's First Year, The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Book,The Mayo Clinic Kids' Cookbook and the soon-to-be-published Mayo Clinic Guide to Fertility and Conception.

Perseus will publish the Mayo titles under its Da Capo Lifelong line of books, which already includes The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living and the upcoming Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness.

Mayo Clinic says the nine books in this deal represent about about one-third of its line of books. It also publishes titles like Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine with Time Home Entertainment as well as self-publishing disease- and condition-specific books on topics such as arthritis, diabetes and breast cancer.

Mayo Clinic declined to discuss how much revenue its books generate for the institution annually.

September 05, 2014

RAEDI brings on Holmes to fill new marketing position

Preparing for the rollout of its regional five-year plan, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. has hired Heather Holmes to fill a new marketing position.

RAEDI announced the hiring of Holmes as vice president of marketing this week. Holmes, a long-time Rochester marketing professional, will start the new job on Sept. 15.

RAEDI President Gary Smith explained that his board decided to create the new marketing position to help with the introduction of the Journey To Growth economic plan that RAEDI and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce have been working on for the past year.
10654081_10204675785082933_99753887_n
A steering committee of 26 business leaders from Olmsted, Dodge and Wabasha counties has been working on the $150,000 project. The plan, which reaches beyond Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center intitiative into the region beyond Rochester, focuses on three major themes:  expanding and diversifying the economy, optimizing the regional talent base and developing a more cohesive and connected region.

Smith anticipates that the plan should be completed in the next few months, and said that Holmes will help introduce it to the area when it's ready.

"For the past couple of months, we've been doing a national and local search to fill this job," he said. "Heather's a good choice, because she knows who we are and believes in what we're doing."

Holmes comes to RAEDI from the Rochester software firm, Metafile. She also worked in marketing for KAAL-ABC 6 and Corporate Web Services.

"It is an exciting time for our great city, and I'm thrilled to have a front row seat. I can't wait to get started," Holmes said about her new role.

July 01, 2014

Mayo Clinic-linked Cardio3 making push into China

Cardio3 BioSciences, a Belgium company working closely with Mayo Clinic, recently launched a joint venture in China, the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world.

Cardiobioscience_jpegWorking with Hong Kong-based Medisun International Limited, it created Cardio3 BioSciences Asia Holdings Ltd. to make a serious push into China. As part of the deal, Medisun purchased $34 million in stock. It now owns 8 percent of the company's outstanding shares.

Cardio3 is publicly listed on the European stock markets NYSE Euronext Brussels and NYSE Euronext Paris, though it is not traded publicly in the U.S. Get_photo

The company says that $34 million will finance the U.S. clinical trials for C-Cure, Cardio3's regenerative heart treatment. Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy flew to Rochester in January for a press conference at Mayo Clinic to announce that U.S. trial. Mayo Clinic in Rochester is one of the trial sites. Homsy gave a tentative time line of commercialization in Europe possibly by 2017 and by 2018 in the U.S.

Medisun has also committed to buy an additional $34 million shares of Cardio3 stock from existing shareholders in the next eight month at a price per share equivalent to the 10 days average preceding the offer.

This new deal means Medisun's ownership of Cardio3 has quickly leapfrogged Mayo Clinic's investment. As of June 16, Mayo Clinic owned 5.05 percent of the available shares of Cardio3. Medisun had just 4.21 percent at that point. As of June 25, Mayo Clinic controlled 3.1 percent of the shares.

Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar originally developed the proprietary process of regenerating heart tissue with stem cells drawn from a patient's own bone marrow. Since 2007, Cardio3 has licensed patents and related research from Mayo Clinic. Terzic and Behfar each have a financial interest in the company.

Homsy has previously stated that he hopes to eventually base a few employees in Rochester for office and laboratory work. Cardio3 previously attempted to open a U.S. headquarters here, but that fizzled when the one person based here left.

Many consider what Cardio3 is attempting as the "holy grail" of cardiac treatments. Terzic previously described repairing faulty hearts as a "major unmet need worldwide." He estimated about one-third of all deaths stem from heart disease.

To date, the promising company has raised $121 million in equity and capital.

A recent study also estimated that the global market for such treatments could grow to $18.2 billion by 2019. The U.S. market was valued at $6.1 billion in 2012, with potential to increase to $8.49 billion by 2019.

“With this presence in Greater China, we are very proud to become the first global player in the field of cardiac regenerative medicines, aiming to commercialize our leading edge cell therapy to patients all across the globe,” stated Cardio Chairman Michel Lussier in the announcement of the venture.

Medisun Chairman Danny Wong says that his company is organizing medical conventions in August "to promote cell based medicines as well as Cardio3’s technology" in both Beijing and Shanghai.

"We are passionate about this project and I am certain that our involvement with Cardio3 as a leader in this field, combined with our local knowledge of the regulatory, healthcare and market access capabilities and expertise, will bring success to all the parties involved,” said Wong.

All the costs of Cardio3's moves in China will be funded by Medisun, with a minimum of $27 million committed during a three year period. Cardio 3 has 40 percent ownership in the joint venture, which will drop to 30 percent when clinical trials are up and running.

Success of the Phase III clinical trials that allow Cardio3 to market C-Cure in Asia would trigger  royalties ranging between 20 and 30 percent of net sales depending on total revenue of the joint venture.

June 09, 2014

Mayo Clinic eliminates 14 nurse positions in Rochester

Mayo Clinic eliminated 14 discharge planning nurse positions in Rochester on June 2 in an effort to improve efficiency.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up"To improve service to patients and eliminate duplication of effort, Mayo Clinic is shifting some of the discharge planning work to other resources," explained Spokesman Bryan L. Anderson of why the Rochester positions were cut.

Anderson said that all 14 nurses impacted by the change were "offered the opportunity to select other nursing roles at Mayo Clinic."

He added that, "Some opted to retire/leave Mayo."

Unlike last week's announcement about Mayo Clinic Health Systems eliminating 188 medical transcriptionist positions in Wisconsin by outsourcing with a Madison company, the planning nurse nurse duties will not move outside the clinic.

Anderson said the discharge planning work has been shifted to other "internal resources."

May 29, 2014

Second Salvation Army store to open

Rochester should have two Salvation Army thrift stores within a few months.

Work has started in a 1,400-square-foot space in the Slumberland Center at 4909 U.S. 52 North, along the frontage road, according to David Ferber, the local director of community engagement for the Salvation Army.

The space is being divided to set up a sales floor separated from the donation sorting area.

E06c662a-9cf7-4fa6-b6ed-565c49263db1The hope is to have it ready to open by late summer or more likely by early fall.

The Salvation Army is leasing the space from Lou Grimaldi, who owns Slumberland as well as the commercial space behind the store. It will be about half the size of the current south Rochester thrift store at 201 Ninth St. S.E., though it will offer the same mix of donated clothing, household goods, toys, books and more.

"We have been working on this for a while. We realized there was a need in Rochester for another store," Ferber said. "Our customers have told us that they want a northwest store."

He credited Grimaldi with helping to finally make this project a reality. While the location is not as visible as most traditional stores want, Ferber says it is a good fit for the Salvation Army.

"We're a destination. I think people will find us," he said.

The Salvation Army's thrift store always has been popular in Rochester, though it has been located in different spots.

Since 2006, the thrift store has been in its spot in the west end of the Kmart center. Its former building downtown now is used for its Caring Partners Adult Day Program.

In recent years, the resale market has grown in Rochester, with Savers, Goodwill and several private shops opening or expanding. That has served Salvation Army well, as more than 80 percent of the sale of each donated item is used to support Rochester programs.

"We have an amazingly generous community," said Brad Dahlke, who is assistant manager of the current store and will be in charge of the new north Rochester location.

Dahlke anticipates it will take about 15 to 18 employees to staff the new store. The current one has about 28 staffers.

He says Rochester always has responded well to the Salvation Army's store with donations as well as shoppers. Some frequent the store for its inexpensive basics. However, others shop like it's a "treasure hunt."

"Lots of antique dealers and collectors shop the store," Dahlke said.

While finding that valuable item is rare, it does happen occasionally. He recalled the story of a person who bought a dusty floor lamp for $5 and re-sold it for $5,600.