Life Sciences

Medtronic paid researcher $19M

Device Regulation Alert: Safety, Compliance and Reimbursement News, January 19, 2009

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) continues to scrutinize payments from medical device makers to healthcare professionals. Grassley’s latest target is University of Wisconsin (UW) researcher and spinal surgeon Thomas Zdeblick, MD.

Grassley sent a letter to UW President Kevin P. Reilly expressing his concern about the $19 million Zdeblick received from Medtronic to help develop and promote spinal devices from 2003 to 2007, according to a Wall Street Journal article. UW requires researchers to disclose financial ties to industry, but the university’s disclosure form does not require precise dollar amounts over $20,000.

Grassley said UW’s reporting requirements do not sufficiently capture potential conflicts of interest and asked for more information about Zdeblick’s disclosures. The dean of UW’s medical school agreed with Grassley and said the reporting requirements would be modified to include disclosure of specific dollar amounts.

Grassley and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) have been investigating ties between medical device manufacturers and physicians for several years. In 2007, they introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which would require medical device companies to publicly disclose all funding to healthcare professionals over $50.

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