MASSDEVICE ON CALL — The top artificial hip and knee makers cut spending on consultants after a federal case charged them with providing illegal kickbacks.
In 2007 Biomet Inc., Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary Depuy Orthopaedics, Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK), Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE:SNN) and Zimmer Holdings (NYSE:ZMH) paid a collective $311 million to settle Dept. of Justice allegations that they had paid orthopedic surgeons kickbacks in exchange for preferential use of their products.
By 2008 the device makers scaled back awards to 568 surgeons, a 40 percent cut compared to 939 surgeons on the payroll the year before.
Total payments came to about $119 million, 40 percent less than the previous year’s $198 million, Bloomberg reported.
For Depuy Orthopaedics, currently embroiled in a storm of hip recall lawsuits for its metal-on-metal hip resurfacing implants, records showed that total consulting fees increased in 2009 and 2010, but were still below 2007 levels.
While a common practice, studies have shown that even a free lunch can alter a physician’s treatment of a product or procedure, according to Bloomberg.
Depuy parent company J&J’s senior director of federal affairs Jane Adams spoke up during a panel conference debating the role of the FDA in encouraging innovation and protecting patients.
While FDA chief Jeffrey Shuren argued that the watchdog agency needs more resources to achieve both goals, while industry argued that the FDA isn’t making them a priority.
"We spend $9 billion a year on R&D," Adams said. "We need to make sure regulatory science is robust."
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