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Boston Scientific settles kickback charges

This article was originally published in The Gray Sheet

Executive Summary

Firm will pay $22 million to settle civil charges that its Guidant subsidiary used four post-market studies as vehicles to pay kickbacks to physicians for implanting its defibrillators and pacemakers. Guidant, which was acquired by Boston Scientific in 2006, allegedly paid participating physicians $1,000-$1,500 per study in 2003 and 2004. The settlement, announced Dec. 23, closes a Department of Justice investigation initiated in 2005 into Guidant product feedback surveys (1"The Gray Sheet" Oct. 31, 2005). Boston Scientific admits no wrongdoing under the settlement, which also includes a corporate integrity agreement with the HHS Office of Inspector General. The agreement requires the company's cardiac rhythm management business to publish its payments to doctors on the Internet, as well as make "enhancements to certain compliance procedures related to financial arrangements with health care providers," according to Boston Scientific. Although device and drug makers "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," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. Boston Scientific recently settled a separate Justice Department investigation, also initiated in 2005, into possible lapses in Guidant's product safety reporting to FDA (2"The Gray Sheet" Nov. 9, 2009)
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