Greed is alive and well in our health care system

KEY TAKEAWAY: Money can make corporations, and people, do questionable things.  While we continue to hear words like patient engagement too many pharma and medical device companies are still chasing dollars rather than launching initiatives that actually help people navigate our complex health care system.

When it comes to chasing profits Medtronic is perhaps the worst offender.  Medtronic, moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Ireland in 2015 in a “tax inversion move,” and has been the subject of repeated fines.

  • In 2008, Medtronic was ordered to pay $ 75 million for false claims regarding the need to hospitalize patients treated with its bone-cement product.


  • In 2011, Medtronic was fined $ 23.5 million for paying kickbacks to doctors to encourage implantation of its pacemakers and defibrillators.


  • In 2012, Medtronic agreed to pay $ 85 million to settle a class-action lawsuit regarding illegal corporate promotion of bone-graft material for off-label uses


  • In 2014, the company was fined $ 9.9 million for paying kickbacks, again to doctors who implanted the company’s pacemakers and defibrillators (kickbacks included free flights to events, used as “free vacations” by some doctors, along with “gifts of wine and alcohol” and “trips to strip clubs”)


  • I[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]n 2015, Medtronic was fined $ 2.8 million for selling its spinal-cord-stimulation device, which “lacks evidence of clinical efficacy,” without FDA approval[/inlinetweet]


  • In another 2015 action, the company was fined $ 4.4 million for labeling imported devices as “made in the United States” so it could sell them to the US military


  • [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]In 2016, Medtronic admitted that over the course of five years it failed to report more than one thousand adverse events to the FDA related to Infuse[/inlinetweet], its spine-implant device (the company said the reports were “misfiled” and the failure to report was “unintentional”); no criminal or civil penalties have been assessed to date.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be, this is routine business for the medical device giant.  Why would a company do such things? The answer is simple…to make more money at the expense of patients.

In 2015 [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Arthrex, another medical device company paid over $100 million to ortho physicians with one doctor receiving over $40 million. [/inlinetweet] Just a simple line item for the expense sheet.

This should make you sick, angry and concerned. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Greed is still alive and well within our health care system and it’s funny how a big check can erase a guilty conscience.[/inlinetweet]