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Question of the Week — Are device manufacturer's services valuable education or unlawful kickbacks?

Posted  March 13, 2019

Earlier this week, medical-device manufacturer Medtronic’s Covidien business unit agreed to pay approximately $20 million to resolve kickback allegations related to the sale of its ClosureFast radiofrequency ablation catheters.  ClosureFAST catheters are used in procedures to treat venous-reflux disease, whose symptoms include varicose veins. The settlement resolves claims that Covidien improperly provided doctors free or discounted marketing services and practice-development support to sway them to buy ClosureFAST catheters. The support services included customized marketing plans for medical practices, “lunch and learn” meetings to help doctors obtain referrals, and helping doctors conduct vein-screening events to cultivate new patients for their practices.

Some healthcare providers have argued that such marketing services and supports should not be unlawful because they help medical providers learn about new technologies that can help their patients.

Should medical-device manufacturers be allowed to provide doctors with valuable services designed to encourage doctors to use the manufacturer’s products on patients?

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Tagged in: Anti-Kickback and Stark, Question of the Week,


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