Medtronic deal with spine surgeon draws Grassley's ire

Continuing his efforts to keep a spotlight on cozy financial relationships between industry players and physicians, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is asking tough questions about the relationship between a top spine surgeon at the University of Minnesota and medical devicemaker Medtronic.

Grassley would like to know more about how the physician, Dr. David Polly, who heads the spine service at the school's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, managed to testify before a Senate committee without letting it know that he had collected more than $1 million in consulting fees from Medtronic. Grassley also questioned Polly's having let Medtronic know the progress of government-sponsored research, in violation of an agreement with the school.

According to an investigation by Grassley, Polly was paid $1.2 million in consulting fees, honoraria and expenses by Medtronic between 2003 and 2007.

Polly, for his part, has said that he never hid his relationship with Medtronic. He defends the role doctors play in working with medical device firms as necessary to improve the quality of such devices in real-world settings.

To learn more about Grassley's investigation:
- read this Minneapolis Star-Tribune piece

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