Today the Wall Street Journal reported details of misdeeds of Medtronics, uncovered by the Senate Finance Committee. Medtronics heavily influenced the medical articles on its drug called Infuse. This drug was supposed to promote bone growth and was used in spine surgeries. It was approved for use only in lower spine surgeries but doctors used it extensively in cervical spine surgeries too.
Senate Finance Committee concluded that Medtronics was, “"heavily involved in drafting, editing and shaping the content of medical journal articles". The physicians who wrote these articles were paid a total of about $210 Million!
These doctors were all spine surgeons and were paid “royalty for their patents products.” However this royalty payment could be a disguise. The so called patents may not be worth anything and Medtronics bought or licensed their patents so it could legitimize the payments.
Drs. Scott D. Boden, Regis W. Haid, Volker Sonntag and Thomas A. Zdeblick were paid between $22 million and $34 million each from 1996 to 2010. A company owned by Dr. John R. Dimar and Steven D. Glassman was paid nearly $65 million over the same period.
Medtronics executives told doctors not to report side effects of drugs and the doctors obliged. Medical articles were published without the side effects. Medtronics staff drafted responses to criticisms from other doctors who reviewed the articles before publications.
Medtronics trained Dr. Hallet Mathews, based in Richmond, Virginea, to appear before FDA review committee to promote Infuse. Dr. Mathew testified that "I have no direct financial interest in the product under review here today and am not being paid for my participation in this meeting." He was being paid by Medtronics for “unrelated patents.” He was later hired by Medtronics.