C.R. Bard has been suspended from competing for new federal contracts because it pleaded guilty last year to giving regulators misleading information about its angioplasty products.
The Murray Hill, N.J.-based medical device manufacturer draws about $20 million annually, or 2% of its total revenues, from federal contracts, said William Bopp, its chief financial officer. The suspension, which was announced earlier this month, doesn't affect current contracts. The length of the suspension hasn't been determined.
This represents one step in federal debarment proceedings, which normally follow criminal convictions of federal contractors. Under federal regulations, government contracting agencies must then decide whether to bar companies found guilty of unethical business conduct from new contracts with any federal agency for as long as three years.
Bard will try to persuade reviewers that its behavior today is ethical and that debarment is unnecessary, Mr. Bopp said. The company's status is being reviewed by the Defense Personnel Support Center, which buys medical supplies for military hospitals.
In October, Bard pleaded guilty to giving the Food and Drug Administration misleading information and agreed to pay $61 million in penalties (Oct. 25, 1993, p. 12). Bard said it altered angioplasty products on the market and conducted clinical trials without FDA approval. The plea followed a four-year investigation of whether Bard and its executives hid cases in which patients were injured by the company's catheters.
The contracting arm of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took similar steps against Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International and its executives after the hospital supplier pleaded guilty to breaking federal law against aiding the Arab economic boycott of Israel. In December, the VA lifted its one-year suspension of Baxter and said the company had adequately addressed concerns about its integrity (Jan. 3, p. 3).
Generally, the government agency doing the most business with a company handles the review.-Lisa Scott