Senate Investigation Reveals That Millions Were Paid
for Positive Spin on Spine Fusion Product
SOURCE: MedPage Today ~ October 25, 2012
By John Fauber
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today
Highly positive studies, published in peer-reviewed medical journals, depicted Medtronic’s spine fusion product as a major breakthrough in back surgery, but those studies were drafted and edited with direct input from Medtronic employees, while the doctors listed as authors were paid millions, according to a U.S. Senate investigation.
The company’s heavy, undisclosed manipulation of information about its bone morphogenetic protein-2 product called Infuse included removing and downplaying concerns about serious complications linked to the product and overstating its benefits.
The Money Trail
Over the course of 15 years, Medtronic paid $210 million to a group of 13 doctors who co-authored the series of now-repudiated papers about the product. The payments also included two corporate entities associated with some of the doctors.
The investigation by Senate Committee on Finance was prompted in part by Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigations that showed how the practice of medicine has been corrupted by conflicts of interest involving doctors, drug and device companies and medical journals.