Whistleblower Lawsuit Says Medtronic Generously Rewarded Doctors for Favorable Articles Touting Infuse Bone Graft Product

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Medtronic Infuse Whistleblower Lawsuit Shady Ties with Doctors
Medtronic has been involved in various controversies over its Infuse® bone growth product and other devices. For example, Medtronic was named in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it used an editor at a prominent medical journal to generate good press for the Infuse® Bone Graft product. According to the complaint, which was unsealed in the Spring of 2012, during his tenure as editor of the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques, Dr. Thomas Zdeblick published articles “touting the benefits of Infuse® while allowing researchers to conceal their financial relationships with the device maker.” Zdeblick, who was also the inventor of the LT-Cage® delivery system for Infuse®, has received some $25 million in royalties from Medtronic. The Medtronic whistleblower lawsuit alleges that while editing the journal, Zdeblick failed to disclose “that he profited from each and every surgery which used Infuse® through rights in the exclusive delivery vehicle, his LT-Cage®.”

In December 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Medtronic agreed to pay $23.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by using physician payments related to postmarket studies and device registries as kickbacks to induce doctors to implant the company’s pacemakers and defibrillators. The settlement resolved allegations contained in two whistleblower lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. As part of the resolution, the whistleblowers will receive payments totaling more than $3.96 million from the federal share of the recovery, the government said.

False Claims Act Whistleblower Provisions

In a whistleblower lawsuit, the False Claims Act allows the federal government to recover up to three times the amount of money it lost as a result of the defendant’s fraud. The whistleblower is entitled to a reward of 15 percent to 25 percent of what the government recovers if the government joins cases. Should the government decline to join the whistleblower case, the lawsuit may proceed privately, and the whistleblower will be entitled to a reward of 25 percent to 30 percent of the recovery.

The False Claims Act prevents companies like Medtronic from retaliating against a whistleblower. Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, or harassed for filing a whistleblower lawsuit can bring an action for reinstatement with same seniority. They are also entitled to recover double back pay with interest and other compensatory damages.

The False Claims Act also allows whistleblowers to initially report fraud anonymously by filing a claim through an attorney. The identity of the whistleblower remains under seal while the Justice Department investigates the case. If the government chooses not to pursue the case, Medtronic will never know the identity of the whistleblower unless the claim is pursued privately.

Legal Help for Medtronic Whistleblowers

If you have knowledge that Medtronic illegally marketed Infuse® or one of its other devices, you may have valuable legal rights as a Medtronic whistleblower. For a confidential, no obligation evaluation of your potential Medtronic whistleblower lawsuit, please fill out our online form, or call 1 800 LAW INFO (1-800-529-4636) today.