Medtronic Questioned Over Doc Payments

The federal government is scrutinizing Medtronic’s relationship with Infuse Bone Graft physicians who are being paid for their consultative services by Medtronic. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Infuse Bone Graft is linked to potentially life-threatening complications when the graft is used in off-label, unapproved instances. The complications involve dangerous swelling in the neck area. The graft is a manufactured version of a naturally-occurring protein that promotes bone growth. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the lower back, but surgeons say it is used widely off-label in other parts of the spine.
According to a Wall St. Journal report, “Doctors with financial ties to Medtronic have been among those promoting the off-label use of Infuse. Former employees have alleged the company induced doctors to use Infuse and other spine products by sending them on lavish trips to resorts, paying them undeserved royalties, and handing out lucrative consulting contracts that required little work.”
In their letters, Sen. Kohl said the allegations by former employees are “highly disturbing.” Sen. Grassley called them “troubling.”