On May 28, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settled a whistleblower lawsuit against Medtronic, Inc. for $9.9 million. Medtronic, the fourth largest medical device supplier in the world, was accused of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to physicians for using Medtronic’s defibrillators and pacemakers.
The allegations came to light after former Medtronic employee-whistleblower notified authorities of the illicit payments, which occurred between 2001 and 2009. In addition to tying kickbacks to the usage of Medtronic products, the complaint details that Medtronic allegedly produced business development and marketing plans for the doctors at no cost, paid doctors to speak at events with the goal of increasing referrals, and gave doctors tickets to sporting events. The complaint further outlines that Medtronic’s sales staff provided doctors with lavish trips and gifts, and even offered cash payments for the utilization of Medtronic devices. Also, business plans were in place in which sales representatives were allegedly instructed to visit doctors’ offices to review patient charts and flag those who they thought should receive an implant despite patients not meeting the criteria for an implantable device.
This settlement should encourage providers to ensure their physician arrangements do not violate provisions of the Anti-Kickback Statute, False Claims Act, or any other fraud and abuse laws. Wachler & Associates healthcare attorneys regularly counsel providers in proactively addressing potential kickback violations and defending providers against government allegations. If you or your healthcare entity have any questions regarding the Anti-Kickback or Statute Stark Law, or wish to have your arrangement reviewed by our attorneys please contact an experienced health care attorney at Wachler & Associates at 248-544-0888.