Medtronic Medical Device Maker Paid $800,000 to Doctor Who Fabricated a Study

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Medtronic, fraud, health news

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(NaturalNews) A Senate investigation has revealed that medical technology company Medtronic paid almost $800,000 in consulting fees over the course of three years to a researcher who falsified scientific data in a study on one of the company's products.

The Army has accused orthopedic surgeon Timothy R. Kuklo of doctoring the results of a study on a Medtronic bone-growth product known as Infuse. The study was carried out on U.S. soldiers with severe leg injuries while Kuklo worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The study was published in the British Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, but the journal withdrew the study after an Army investigation concluded that Kuklo had falsified data and forged the names of four other military doctors as co-authors.

By the time the scandal broke, Kuklo was working at Washington University. He had joined the faculty there in 2006 and began work on a followup to the original study, this one funded directly by Medtronic. Not until mid-2007, however, did he reveal to the University that he was receiving more than $50,000 per year from Medtronic in consulting fees. Because receiving such a high level of compensation placed him in breach of university conflict-of-interest rules, Kuklo was told either to cut his compensation to $10,000 per year or to abandon the study. He abandoned the study.

A university investigation later revealed that three days after Kuklo turned in a September 2006 conflict-of-interest form affirming that he had no relationships with any companies related to his research and anticipated no such ties, he signed a consulting agreement with Medtronic that was retroactive to August.

The Senate launched its own investigation of Kuklo in February 2009, leading Medtronic to reveal that it had paid Kuklo almost $800,000 in consulting fees since mid-2006, $132,000 of that in 2009 alone. The company ended its relationship with Kuklo in May, and Washington University has placed him on paid leave pending the resolution of the various investigations that the affair has sparked.

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