Medtronic Payments to Doctors Cause Controversy In Australia

Confidential documents obtained by the Star Tribune and originally cited by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, point to medical device maker, <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">Medtronic Inc. closing the ring dvdrip download , being caught in a “secret marketing strategy.”

The strategy allegedly involved courting doctors in exchange for fellowship grants in 2007, said the Star Tribune, broadening the controversy about Medtronic’s payment practices not only in the United States, but, now, in Australia, as well. It seems, reported the Star Tribune that, based on documents it obtained, “$1.5 million spent on 18 fellowship grants” would provide “a 200 percent return on investment in the first year.” The Tribune quoted the documents as stating that the aim of the strategy was to “build a community of practitioners that embrace Medtronic’s mission,” and “secure … new business revenue streams.”

The overarching concern with such relationships in which finances are exchanged between Industry and researchers is that a bias exists that excludes patient welfare. For instance, in this case, according to the Tribune, a brochure about a Medtronic-sponsored event about spine care took place at a tony venue in Australia’s wine country. It seems the event occurred last month, despite the negative coverage pointing to the growing trend in reports of physicians and researchers receiving large industry payments.

One of the speakers listed at the resort meeting was a prominent former military physician who also consulted for Medtronic until this summer after being accused by the U.S. Army of falsifying a study involving a Medtronic spine product, said the Tribune. Ultimately, the physician, Dr. Timothy Kuklo, did not speak at the meeting. Another controversial doctor, whose relationship with Medtronic has received some attention from Senator Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa), was scheduled to speak. Dr. David Polly, the head of spine surgery at the University of Minnesota’s Medical School, is—based on an email he wrote—still a Medtronic consultant, said the Tribune.

Grassley, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee investigating medical device firms and doctor relationships has long been looking into the alleged negligence surrounding reporting practices. Those concerned say the conflicts can affect critical decisions about research and subsequent treatments, according to a prior Wall Street Journal piece. Because of Grassley’s investigations, restrictions have been put in place that limit the money researchers accept from Industry, publicize funds received, and restrict consultant and speaker roles, said the Journal. A number of states also mandate medical companies to report payments made to in-state doctors, and a bill has been sponsored by Grassley and others, requiring national disclosure, said the Journal.

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A Medtronic spokeswoman said Medtronic’s Australasia management learned of the marketing program in mid-2007, calling it “inappropriate” and not in keeping with conduct standards; the program was terminated, reported the Tribune.

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