Swedish kidney dialysis giant Gambro AB disclosed last week that its U.S. subsidiary, Gambro Healthcare, has received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department seeking information about the business activities and operations of the Lakewood, Colo.-based company. The U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis is leading the investigation.
In a release on its Web site, Gambro said it will respond appropriately to the government request but noted it "has no further information concerning this matter at this time." Gambro owns or manages 525 dialysis clinics in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in St. Louis would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.
The nature of the investigation isn't known, but for several years federal investigators have been examining the business relationships between dialysis companies and nephrologists. Specifically, investigators are looking at billing practices and financial inducements for patient referrals.
Kevin Smith, Gambro president for investor relations, said the firm hasn't had an opportunity to discuss the subpoena with the government. "So it's hard to specify whether this is a criminal investigation, a whistleblower suit or a general investigation," he said.
Smith also confirmed that the company had received a second government subpoena, this time from the U.S. attorney in Miami. That subpoena requests billing information from Gambro's clinical laboratories after January 2000.