Bribery on Two Continents: Olympus Corp., to Pay $646 Million Settlement

Nurse Leader Insider, March 10, 2016

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On March 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Olympus Corp. with paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to hospitals and doctors to buy its products. The company, which owns 85% of the U.S. endoscope market, has agreed to pay $646 million to resolve the criminal charges and civil charges brought against it. The sum is the largest total amount paid in U.S. history for violations involving the Anti-Kickback Statute by a medical device company.

“Olympus Corp. of the Americas’ and its subsidiaries’ greed-fueled kickback scheme threatened the impartiality of medical decision-making and the financial integrity of Medicare and Medicaid,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a statement.

The DOJ says that by using kickbacks, Olympus’ U.S. division (OCA) made over $600 million in sales and $230 million in profits. The company admits to the charges, which include:

  • Holding up a $50,000 research grant until a hospital signed a deal to purchase Olympus equipment.
  • Giving a doctor with a major role in a New York medical center’s buying decisions free use of $400,000 in equipment for his private practice.
  • Paying off doctors with hot air balloon rides, winery tours, spa treatments, lavish meals and rounds of golf at an Olympus sponsored forum.
  • Paying for a trip for three doctors to travel to Japan in 2007 as a quid pro quo for their hospital’s decision to switch from a competitor to Olympus.
  • Giving a hospital a $5,000 grant to facilitate a $750,000 sale.
  • Giving a week-long, paid vacation in Japan to the physician president of a professional organization and his spouse for three years in a row. The president was also paid a $10,000 honorarium to give a single lecture during each trip.

To continue reading, check out the full article in the Patient Safety Monitor.

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