Medtronic Defends Payments To Physicians

Medtronic, which has been the focus of recent reports detailing its payments to doctors, is defending that practice. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: “At the annual shareholder meeting of Medtronic Inc. Thursday, CEO Bill Hawkins defended the company’s longstanding practice of collaborating with physicians, although he acknowledged these paid relationships could pose a conflict of interest.”

“Working with doctors to improve devices and commercialize inventions is crucial to advancing medical technology, Hawkins said. … Yet these relationships have triggered inquiries by Congress and the Department of Justice, prompting a pointed question from one shareholder who said he was shocked at the amount of money paid to Medtronic’s doctor consultants. Recent reports have focused on the consulting relationship between Medtronic and Dr. David Polly, the head of spine surgery at the University of Minnesota. Between 2003 and 2007, Medtronic paid Polly $1.2 million for consulting, expenses and honoraria. Hawkins said the bulk of the money Medtronic pays to doctors is for royalties related to their inventions” (Moore, 8/27).

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