Cincinnati Spine Surgeon Facing Fraud Charges Over InFuse

spine_surgeon_fraudA Cincinnati spine surgeon has been charged with millions of dollars in fraudulent billing for unnecessary operations using Medtronic’s bone-growth product Infuse.

Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani, who has a private practice with offices in Evendale and Florence, Kentucky called Center for Advanced Spine Technologies (CAST), faces federal charges that he persuaded patients to undergo unnecessary surgeries.

Durrani is accused of billing private and public health care benefit programs for the allegedly fraudulent services. The complaint, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, alleges that he was responsible for more than $7 million in Medicare Part A payments to West Chester Hospital from 2010 to 2013, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

The litigation centers on the use of Medtronic’s bone-growth product, InFuse, used in spinal fusion surgeries. The lawsuits allege that a business relationship with Medtronic led Durrani to perform unneeded InFuse procedures. Medtronic is involved in hundreds of lawsuits nationwide that accuse the company of marketing InFuse for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

For nearly a decade, Medtronic has been embroiled in controversy over company-sponsored InFuse research that was found to overstate InFuse’s effectiveness while understating the risks and complications. In 2011, in an effort to defuse the criticism, Medtronic agreed to an independent review, overseen by Dr. Harlan Krumholz of Yale University. Medtronic released its study data to Dr. Krumholz and provided $2.5 million to fund reviews.  Last month, two research teams, one in Britain and one in the U.S., both reported they found no benefit in InFuse over grafted bone harvested from the patient’s own body, and InFuse side effects include a slight, increased risk of cancer.

In speaking to the Business Courier, Durrani said questions about the spine procedures he performed should properly be considered “professional disagreements between experts.”


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