The greed of the health care system and the movie “Puncture”

Reusing needles in Africa
Reusing needles in Africa

The Facts with the Common Plastic Syringe Accidents

Accidental needlestick injuries cause healthcare workers to be exposed to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and many other bloodborne diseases at a rate of about 800,000 a year in the US alone. Studies show that a great many are never reported. Needle reuse still causes over 1.2 million deaths a year and over 20 million Hepatitis C infections in Africa and India. More information: and needle-stick injury facts.

The Safe Needle – Retractable Plastic Syringe

In 1989, Thomas J. Shaw, saw a television news segment about a doctor who had contracted HIV from an accidental needlestick injury. The doctor complained that engineers were insensitive to the dangers faced daily by frontline healthcare workers. Shaw was struck by the doctor’s criticism and felt compelled to act. After spending a year developing preliminary design concepts, Shaw was awarded a $50,000 grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). More information:

The Market and its Huge Obstacles

Despite the obvious benefits and cost-effectiveness of the safe needle, the inventor was barred from even showing it to hospital purchasing agents. The reason was a corrupt arrangement between monolithic hospital purchasing cartels (GPOs) and a big needle maker (Becton Dickinson), in which the industry giant was able to pay millions in kickbacks to the cartels to make sure ONLY its products were used in hospitals. These cartels, known as hospital GPOs (Group Purchasing Organizations), effectively blocked the introduction of all kinds of innovative medical products, not just syringes, costing the US healthcare system over $37 billion each year. More information: Marketing Obstacles

The Real Mike Weiss
The Real Mike Weiss

The law firm Danziger & Weiss, LLP

Michael David Weiss and Paul Danziger were hired by the inventor of this safe needle, and were drafting a lawsuit against the big needle maker (Becton Dickinson) and the GPOs (Group Purchasing Organizations) when Weiss was probably assassinated. The investigation for the cause of his death was never completed because the 2 responsible attorneys died suddenly just few weeks apart, and others involved in the investigation were fired or asked for resignation. Michael David Weiss died on the same day as Samuel Adams but almost 200 years later – October 2, 1999. Like Samuel Adams who signed the Declaration of Independence, Mike Weiss lived his life fighting for freedom and justice (Tex Lazar words in the Memorial Service).

Chris Evans as Mike Weiss
Chris Evans as Mike Weiss

The Movie ‘Puncture’

After Weiss’ death, Danziger, who had never written a screenplay in his life, was determined that the best way to get his story out there was through a motion picture – and that is how “Puncture” was started but at that time with another name. How Paul Danziger’s own life experience became a feature film is a lesson for anyone who has ever wanted to become a filmmaker. Here is the official synopsis:

“Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is a talented young Houston lawyer and a functioning drug addict. Paul Danziger (co-director Mark Kassen), his longtime friend and partner, is the straightlaced and responsible yin to Mike’s yang. Their mom-and-pop personal-injury law firm is getting by, but things really get interesting when they decide to take on a case involving Vicky (Vinessa Shaw), a local ER nurse, who is pricked by a contaminated needle on the job. As Weiss and Danziger dig deeper into the case, a health care and pharmaceutical conspiracy teeters on exposure and heavyweight attorneys move in on the defense. Out of their league but invested in their own principles, the mounting pressure of the case pushes the two underdog lawyers and their business to the breaking point.”

What’s more, singer, musician and humanitarian Bono was so taken by the story’s connection to one of his charities that he hosted a post-premiere party. Bono’s Project Red helps to stop the spread of AIDS, HIV and other communicable diseases in Africa. Needle re-use is the main carrier; safety needles could wipe out the spread completely.

“Sometimes, the brightest light comes from the darkest place…” 

The unofficial Movie Site:

The official Movie Site:

Written by Feitosa-Santana

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