Medtronic faces more kickback accusations

Despite having spent $40 million to settle kickback charges, medical device maker Medtronic has continued to pay millions in consulting fees to spine surgeons, according to a whistle-blower involved in the case. Now Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) is asking Medtronic to explain consulting payments made after the July 2006 settlement, which addressed charges that the company had lured doctors with "sham consulting agreements, sham royalty agreements and lavish trips to desirable locations."

According to the whistle-blower's attorney, Medtronic made payments of almost $6 million in consulting fees, with some surgeons being paid in the high six figures in a single year. Medtronic, for its part, isn't denying that it's made consulting payments, but says that the payments weren't kickbacks. Instead, it says, it paid doctors a legitimate fee to assist the company in determining how its devices could be best designed and used.

To find out more about the pending investigation:
- read this piece in The New York Times

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