The leading professional group for doctors who implant heart-zapping defibrillators said it is cooperating in a U.S. Justice Department investigation into proper use of the devices.
Professional group aiding feds in defibrillator probe
The Heart Rhythm Society said in a statement that it is providing expertise to investigators conducting a civil probe into defibrillators implants, which treat dangerous heart rhythms using electrical shocks. A spokeswoman for the group declined to give details.
The announcement comes two weeks after a medical journal article suggested one in five heart defibrillators may be implanted for questionable reasons. The devices are not recommended for patients who've recently had a heart attack or bypass surgery, or those with short life expectancy. But those patients and others who fall outside prescribing guidelines make up a fifth of the defibrillator population, according to the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study authors examined national registry data from nearly 112,000 patients receiving the devices between 2006 and 2009.
Wells Fargo Securities analyst Larry Biegelsen said Friday the government investigation could have a “chilling effect” among doctors who prescribe implantable cardiac defibrillators, or ICDs.
“We think there could be a short-term correction in the ICD market as physicians are more careful about staying within the guidelines,” Biegelsen said in a note to investors.
The two leading implantable defibrillator manufacturers are Medtronic and Boston Scientific Corp.
Also Friday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed safety test requirements for defibrillators.
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