Wright Medical Group, Arlington, Tenn., and Exactech, Gainesville, Fla., are the latest devicemakers to be drawn into a federal probe of consulting agreements between orthopedic-device companies and physicians.
According to company news releases, Wright and Exactech on Tuesday received subpoenas from the U.S. attorney in Newark, N.J., requesting documents regarding any physician-consulting and professional-service agreements dating back to January 1998. The requests came from the same federal prosecutors office that launched a five-year-long probe into whether orthopedic-device makers Biomet, DePuy Orthopaedics, Smith & Nephew, Stryker Corp. and Zimmer were using phony physician consulting agreements to entice surgeons to use their products. The investigation resulted in the companies agreeing to pay a $311 million collective fine and undergo 18 months of federal monitoring. The devicemakers admitted no wrongdoing in the case.
In related investigations, orthopedic-device maker Medtronic, Minneapolis, recently revealed it has received four requests since September from federal investigators and lawmakers for documents regarding the companys physician consulting agreements.
Both Wright and Exactech said they are cooperating with federal investigators, but could not estimate what impact, if any, the investigation will have on future operations. For more on this subject, click here. -- by Shawn Rhea
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