Heart device maker, Boston Scientific yesterday agreed to pay $22 million to settle charges that the company's unit Guidant paid kickbacks to doctors to get them to use its heart devices.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had started an investigation against Boston Scientific's subsidiary, Guidant Corporation in 2005 for paying physicians between $1,000 and $1,500 each to participate in one of four studies conducted in 2003 and 2004, designed to assess the performance of pacemakers and defibrillators.
The DOJ said yesterday in a press release that in reality, Guidant was paying kickbacks to physicians to opt for its pacemakers and defibrillators over its rivals.
Pacemakers are implanted devices that monitor and help control heart rhythms, while implantable defibrillators provide shocks that can jolt a failing heart back to life.
The US Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Massachusetts, whose office conducted the investigation of the medical studies said in a statement, "Although medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies can use post-market studies legitimately to obtain information about how their products work in the field, they cannot use those studies, and the honoraria associated with them, to induce physicians to use their products."
Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific said that that it has entered into a civil settlement with the DOJ and agreed to pay $22 million and enter into a corporate integrity agreement, which requires its cardiac rhythm management unit to disclose payments to doctors on its Web site.