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Medtronic's $800k Consultant

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 18, 2009 5:09 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Infuse, Spinal Surgery, Medtronic, Conflict-Of-Interest, Infuse Bone Graft, Medical Device

Dr. Tim Kuklo made $800,000 from Medtronic the year he shopped an article the Army says he falsified 

Medtronic’s Army Doctor

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       IMAGE SOURCE:  Dr. Tim Kuklo/ Washington University Web site    

    

Medical device maker, Medtronic, promises to make transparent its payments to doctors who consult for the company beginning in early 2011. 

In the meantime, news is circulating about the $800,000 that Medtronic paid to Dr. Timothy Kuklo, an army doctor who published a favorably study about the Infuse bone-graft product which later turned out to be fabricated.   

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery withdrew the article after the Army accused Kuklo of basing it on “falsified information” and forging the signatures of the co-authors. The article reported that injured soldiers healed better when the Infuse bone graft product was used.  

Medtronic was paying Kuklo his “consulting fees” during the time he shopped the article for publication.  

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Medtronic says it paid Kuklo for speaking at company events, training doctors, and developing products at a rate of $356,242 a year.  The payments did not go to the study or the published article, Medtronic says.

Doctors are frequently paid consultants and in fact, Medtronic listed 22 consultants working on Infuse to Congress last year. Compensation rates range from $100 to more than $67,000 a year.  Surgeons can earn more. 

Dr. Kuklo has left the Army and is a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis.

Medtronic has listed Dr. Kuklo’s consulting arrangement on “inactive status” but early in 2009, it paid him more than $132,000.  

“Infuse Bone Graft” is a biologically engineered liquid that is used to promote bone growth in spine-repair surgery.

It’s become a best seller for Medtronic Inc. of Minneapolis, estimated to have brought in $815 million in the fiscal year that ended April 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal

But Infuse Bone Graft has been linked to complications that have occurred during off- label use, specifically in surgery in the neck.

Justice Department Investigation

Medtronic is facing a Justice Department investigation following reports by three whistleblowers who charged the company was illegally marketing Infuse.

In December 2008, two former employees of Medtronic Inc. filed a whistle-blower suit against the company, alleging lucrative financial relationships between it and seven doctors at the Twin Cities Spine Center, a Minneapolis practice that’s reported to be one of the largest in the country.

The suit alleges that the medical device company and the doctors signed consulting and royalty agreements for the doctors to use Medtronic’s “Infuse Bone Graft” products in ways not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Star Tribune reported. 

In one document, a proposed consulting agreement showed Medtronic promised to pay spine doctors $4,000 a day for “services performed.” That arrangement was not to exceed $80,000 a year.

Medtronic agreed to pay $40 million to settle two of the whistleblower cases, filed in federal district court in Memphis. But the company did not admit any wrongdoing.

Marketing for off-label use is not allowed under the FDA.   #


2 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Steve Lombardi
Thursday, June 18, 2009 10:52 PM EST

I can't understand why none of these doctors are investigated by the FBI and charged with a crime? People's lives are ruined by this junk science and no one goes to prison? How can that be?

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, June 19, 2009 12:10 AM EST

Plausible Deniability

White Collar Crime

Delay in Action- Impact

So a kid goes into a 7-11 and puts a gun to the head of a patron, and pulls the trigger. You have no plausble deniability, it's on camera. This is not a white collar crime, in fact the opposite and there is huge distain for the poor, and there is no delay between pulling the trigger and death. Kid goes to prison for a long time.

There is a slight turning of our collective conscience toward white collar professions though, given our present economic situation and that, perhaps even outrage, along with a Justice Department investigation, could possibly lead to criminal convictions, though not necessarily in this case. Eventually some white collar criminals get popped on taxes.

But yes, generally speaking white collar crime does pay, IMHO.

Comments for this article are closed.

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