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VOL. 124 | NO. 38 | Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Medtronic To Disclose Physician Payments

AP

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NEW YORK (AP) – Following years of pressure, medical device maker Medtronic Inc. will begin disclosing how much money it gives physicians in various consulting and other payments, though the reporting threshold is far less than currently proposed legislation.

The move comes months after two U.S. senators asked the Minneapolis-based company to disclose more about its consulting arrangements with physicians and cited prior allegations that the company paid surgeons to boost spinal implant sales.

In 2006, Medtronic settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for $40 million over allegations that it paid physicians millions to use its products. The company did not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the deal, and the government agreed to dismiss two cases.

More recently, though, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Herb Kohl, D-Wis., asked the company to provide details about physicians who receive company payments for consulting services. They had drafted a bill that would require Medtronic and its peers to disclose all payments to physicians more than $500. Medtronic has set its threshold at $5,000 annually.

Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc. have already volunteered to publish such information, and Medtronic said its decision was also voluntary.

In a statement Tuesday, Medtronic said in 2010 it will start gathering the necessary information, with the first annual disclosure occurring in March 2011. It also will commission a third party to audit the information.

The disclosures will include consulting fees, royalties or honoraria for physicians who receive payments of $5,000 or more a year from Medtronic. Those consulting fees will include counsel for education and training, clinical trial design, administration and product design as well as safety.

“Relationships between industry and doctors are essential to innovation, education and training in our industry,” Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Hawkins said in a statement. “Through greater transparency about the nature of these relationships, we will help people better understand how important they are to developing lifesaving and enhancing products for patients who need them.”

Hawkins said the company supports Grassley and Kohl’s proposed legislation.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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