Biotronik implants linked with possible physician kickbacks

A federal investigation looking into whether device manufacturer Biotronik used illegal marketing and sales practices to get physicians to use its defibrillators and pacemakers, the New York Times reports.

Ninety-five percent of cardiac patients at a Las Vegas-area hospital who had defibrillators or pacemakers implanted last year received them from the same small manufacturer, suggesting the staff cardiologists may have been financially influenced in their selections, the newspaper reports.

The firm Biotronik accounted for 250 of the 263 such procedures that took place at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, even though the firm's market nationwide market share hovers at around 5%. Biotronik is headquartered in Germany, with its U.S. operations based in Oregon.

Several cardiologists on the hospital's staff had been hired as consultants by Biotronik, with some receiving fees as high as $5,000 a month, the newspaper reported. One cardiologist was implanting devices valued at $250,000 per month. However, some clinicians said they had switched to Biotronik because they thought the firm's devices were safe than their competitors. The company confirmed it is currently under a federal investigation for its business practices, but the U.S. Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny an investigation was underway.

For more information:
- read the New York Times article
- check out this snippet in the Las Vegas Review-Journal 

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