Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pacemaker firm to pay $9.2M (USA)

In a four-year-old case with nationwide implications, Ela Medical has agreed to pay $9.2 million to settle a whistle-blower case brought by a former Miami technician who charged the company used several schemes to pay kickbacks to South Florida doctors. Tania Lee's original lawsuit against Ela, manufacturer of pacemakers and other heart devices, had named a dozen South Florida hospitals and 25 doctors, but her amended complaint was only against Ela. 'Ela is a window into something much bigger that is widespread in the healthcare industry,' Jon May, one of her attorneys, said on Monday. 'It's how the healthcare industry is set up, offering such incentives for medicines and procedures. Every place you look, every rock you turn over, you see...that as long as we pay doctors for procedures and devices rather than outcomes, there is a huge incentive for doctors to do more.' Ela, the Denver-based subsidiary of an Italian company, issued a brief statement on the settlement: 'Closure of this investigation places this legacy issue firmly behind us and clearly enhances our ability to execute on our plans for CRM [cardiac rhythm management] in the United States. Our commitment to provide patients and healthcare providers with life-saving and life-enhancing innovation, and to conduct our business in a highly ethical manner is stronger than ever.' - Miami Herald

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