Pharmaceutical companies are not the only companies accused of paying kickbacks to doctors to sell their products. More recently, Medtronic, Inc., the world’s largest medical device maker, agreed to pay $23.5 million in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department after the government alleged Medtronic was paying kickbacks to doctors.
In a recent probe into the company’s practices, the government found enough evidence to bring charges against Medtronic, alleging that the company submitted false claims to Medicaid and Medicare using two post-market studies and device registries in which illegal kickbacks were paid to doctors.
As part of the kickbacks, the government alleged that Medtronic paid doctors between $1,000 and $2,000 per patient to get them to use the devices in their patients.
Medtronic has not admitted any wrongdoing despite its settlement with the government. But government attorneys say improper payments like those made by Medtronic to doctors can impair doctors’ judgment when it comes to helping patients choose a pacemaker or defibrillator that is right for the patients.
Other companies that have settled kickback allegations with the government include Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical. Boston Scientific paid $22 million after the government found it had paid kickbacks to doctors as an incentive for them to use Boston Scientific’s heart devices. And earlier this year, St. Jude Medical paid $16 million to settle allegations similar to those brought against Medtronic. Neither of those companies admitted wrongdoing in their settlements.
This is not the first allegation that Medtronic has paid doctors to influence study results. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the company’s marketing of Infuse, a bone growth product.
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