Reports indicate that DePuy, manufacturer of the hip replacement device Acetabular ASR XL, paid 200 physicians across the country over $80 million. Some surgeons collected more than $1 million from the company, even as concerns over hip replacement defects arose, according to the newhavenindependent.org.
DePuy has tried to minimalize the significance of these payments categorizing them as consulting pay, product royalty payments, or compensation for research and other expenses. However, Gregory Demske, who works in the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, made a very astute point about the potential conflict of interest that can arise with such financial arrangements.
“In an environment where physicians routinely receive substantial compensation from medical device companies through stock options, royalty agreements, consulting agreements, research grants and fellowships, evidence suggests that there is a significant risk that such payments will improperly influence medical decision-making,’’ he said.
This is common sense. If a company is paying you thousands of dollars, you are probably not inclined to speak poorly of them and you have a vested interest in promoting the company’s products.
DePuy continues to pay numerous physicians, even in the midst of a massive hip replacement recall that has affected over 90,000 patients worldwide. This is troubling since it means future DePuy products that could have similar, or even worse, defects may be arbitrarily promoted simply because a physician is receiving a kickback from a medical device company.
There should be further investigation into the questionable relationship between physicians and medical device companies. At the very least, a doctor should be required to disclose to their patients that they are receiving financial compensation from a company whose product the physician wants to use for a procedure.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.