KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Panel Says Medtronic Ghostwrote Positive Medical Journal Studies On Its Spine Treatment Product

A Senate Finance Committee investigation also alleges that the company paid $210 million to 13 doctors who co-authored the studies.

Medpage Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Medtronic Helped Write And Edit Positive 'Infuse' Spine Studies
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 company 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. 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 (Fauber, 10/25).

Medpage Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The $34-Million Spine Surgeon
Financial ties between University of Wisconsin orthopedic surgeon Thomas Zdeblick, MD, and Medtronic date to 1996 and include more than $34 million in consulting and royalty payments, according to documents from a U.S. Senate investigation. The payments to Zdeblick were the most for any individual among the $210 million paid over 14 years by Medtronic to a group of surgeons who wrote favorable medical journal articles about the company's spine surgery product, Infuse, records to be released Thursday show (Fauber, 10/24).

Bloomberg: Medtronic Manipulated Bone Product Data, Senators Say
Medtronic Inc. (MDT) ghost-wrote sections of medical papers and paid physician authors hundreds of millions of dollars in "consulting fees" to promote its bone-growth product Infuse, a U.S. Senate investigation found. Medtronic, the world's biggest maker of heart-rhythm devices, helped write, edit and shape at least 11 medical journal articles about the product, which is used to spur bone growth after spinal surgery, according to report released today by the Senate Finance Committee (Cortez and Armstrong, 10/25).

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