Five U.S. manufacturers of medical devices have confirmed receiving letters from the Securities and Exchange Commission related to an informal inquiry into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Four of the companiesStryker Corp., Biomet, Zimmer Holdings and Smith & Nepheware orthopedic-implant makers that joined an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department last month to settle allegations they used sham consulting contracts to mask kickbacks to surgeons. (For more on the settlement, see the Oct. 8 Modern Healthcare article Extended warranties. Registration required.) Zimmer spokesman Brad Bishop said the company doesnt believe the SEC letter has anything to do with the Justice Department investigation.
Also among the recipients of the letter was Medtronic, whose spokeswoman, Marybeth Thorsgaard, said the letter doesnt indicate that the query is specific to the companys orthopedic products. It looks like a very general letter, Thorsgaard said. It asks that we voluntarily disclose any problems or issues, and we do not believe weve committed any violations of the FCPA, she said, referring to the U.S. law intended to curb companies from bribing foreign officials for favorable treatment.
A fifth company settling with the Justice Department, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, has not received the SEC letter, spokeswoman Sarah Colamarino said. -- by Gregg Blesch
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