German cardiac device-maker Biotronik backed the doctors it’s alleged to have paid to switch over to its cardiac rhythm therapy devices, calling charges that it rana pay-to-play scheme in Nevada “flatly wrong and unfair.”
The German medical device giant found itself under scrutiny in the States after a New York Times article this month showed that it managed to convince a hospital in Las Vegas to convert from carrying mostly Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX) pacemakers and defibrillators over the course of three years.
"The implication that our contractual partnership with expert cardiologists is simply to enhance sales is flatly wrong and unfair," the company said in statement. "[The press] accounts unfairly challenge the integrity of highly trained physicians who have spent a lifetime treating patients with potentially deadly heart arrhythmias and pacing issues.”
Biotronik also defended the Las Vegas hospital where the cardiologists practice, saying they were treated "unfairly" in recent coverage.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) asked the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services to look into whether patients were put at risk or if improper billings had been made after the April 2 Times article raisedquestions about whether the cardiologists who implanted the devices had improperly accepted consulting fees from Biotronik.
Last year, 95 percent of the pacemakers implanted at the hospital were made by Biotronik, according to the Times. The devices dramatically rose in popularity (NYT graph) at the center in mid-2008, after Biotronik hired several cardiologists as consultants. The physician consultants were paid as much as $5,000 a month, according to the article.
Biotronik said it establishes relationships with doctors out of necessity and relies on their guidance to develop better products.
"In our opinion, there is no substitute for obtaining this information, and to proceed without it would significantly impact patient access to appropriate care," according to the press release.