Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Medtronic spinal procedure subject to Senate probe

Medtronic, one of the world's largest medical providers while doing in business in all 50 states including Pennsylvania, has found itself the subject of a Senate finance committee report. The committee asserted that the medical provider changed the outcome of studies from outside researchers to embellish claims about a spine treatment that the company marketed and sold.

The product in question is called Infuse. Medtronic is accused of talking up the benefits of this procedure while downplaying risks. A Senate investigation of Infuse came about due to disputes among physicians that claimed side effects of the procedure such as male sterility were barely mentioned in the studies that Medtronic had sponsored.

It has been claimed that Medtronic placed language in sponsored reports that Infuse was superior to bone grafts because there was no requirement of harvesting bone from the pelvis while using the Infuse procedure. It is also believed that Medtronic has paid as much as $210 million since 1996 to doctors involved in research of Infuse.

Because there is such a financial incentive to hold back the truth, large corporations cannot be trusted to police themselves when it comes to products claim. That the actions of corporations often goes unchecked is the reason that so many individuals are injured using products, and why attorneys bring products liability claims against these companies.

Without question, businesses making money off of a particular product should not at the same time be allowed to influence any independent inquiry as to the products defects or benefits. A company should not be spending more than $200 million in so-called research if the object of such spending is to end any speculation that a procedure may have its flaws or limitations.

Source: The New York Times, "Panel Says Medtronic Edited Product Studies," by Barry Meier, Oct. 25, 2012

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