At first blush, the words “health care industry” and “thriller” seem like two terms that should never be in the same sentence together. Amazingly, Adam and Mark Kassen, the co-directors of “Puncture,” have managed to make a compelling film that comprises both of those things. As sons of a lifelong nurse and a medical supply center owner, the brothers were drawn to a script written by lawyer Paul Danziger, who, along with his law partner, Mike Weiss, took on the health care industry’s pay-to-play medical supplying system.
“We made the film because we were really intrigued by the characters,” co-director and star Mark Kassen explains. “Our hope is if we did a good job with the first part, that the second part would be risen in the consciousness of the country.”
It all started with a nurse who, while dying of AIDS due to an accidental needle-stick, went to Danziger and Weiss proposing a lawsuit. The accident could’ve been prevented if the hospital carried safer, one-time-use needles. Several hospitals refused to carry them because of their standing relationships with other suppliers. This discovery led the tiny firm into a confrontation with a huge industry.
But as Kassen mentions, there are also great characters in the story, like Weiss (Chris Evans), who was also a functioning drug addict.
“Mike hung out with the most interesting, crazy drug addicts or musicians — and then he’d hang out with federal judges,” Kassen says. “He had a wide variety of worlds he would play in.”
Pay-to-play in medical supplies
“It started as a way that lots of different medical supply companies could give their products to one organization and that organization could make it easier to get them into the hospitals,” Kassen explains. “That guy in the middle ended up coming up with a scheme ... that allows them to take financial kickbacks from medical supply companies and therefore allow medical supply companies to block out any other products. It became a gigantic business for the GPOs. It’s a $100 billion-a-year business.”