Wednesday, June 24, 2009

White Collar and Health Care: DOJ Subpoenas Health Giant

Medtronic, the world's largest health care technology company received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice. The subpoena required the production of documents about the company's ties to Timothy R. Kuklo, M.D. Among the documents sought are those providing information about the company's financial ties to the physician. Dr. Kuklo is a former Army orthopedic surgeon at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had published an article favorable to the Medtronic about its product Infuse, which helps in bone growth.

Previously, the company disclosed that it had paid over $800,000 in consulting fees to Dr. Kuklo. Medtronic paid most of this money to Dr. Kuklo in the last three years. This was the same time frame in which Dr. Kuklo submitted his paper touting the effectiveness of Infuse in bone grafts that were employed in treating serious leg wounds of American combat casualties.

An army investigation of Dr. Kuklo accused him of forging the names of other physicians on his article and falsifying patient data for it. Moreover, the journal that published the article has since retracted it.

The government is probably focusing on Medtronic because it continued to pay Dr. Kuklo fees and to have him speak to physicians about Infuse after it became aware of the issues involving his article. The company only ceased payments when press and congressional investigations began requesting information about its financial ties to Dr. Kuklo.

For an in depth article on the Medtronic subpoena, please see The New York Times, "Medtronic Gets Subpoena Regarding Disputed Study," June 24, 2009, p. B2.

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