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Medtronic pays $2.8M to settle claim it paid doctors to push devices

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Minnesota-based Medtronic will pay out $2.8 million to settle claims it illegally paid doctors to push a medical procedure not considered safe or effective.

According to the Star Tribune, the Justice Department accused Medtronic of handing out "tens of thousands of dollars" to doctors in 20 states to encourage health providers to use one of its neurostimulation devices "off-label" – meaning other than what they were prescribed for.

The medical device giant, based in Minneapolis, pitched the product as a treatment for chronic pain, the Business Journal reports, even though the Food and Drug Administration had not ruled it safe and effective for that use.

In a press release, the Justice Department claims that Medtronic arranged for doctors to attend sponsored "on-site training programs" related to the use of the stimulation devices even though they were not approved for that use.

Medtronic denied it did anything wrong, the Star Tribune notes, but agreed a $2.8 million settlement with the Justice Department that will see the charges dismissed without an admission of liability.

"Targeting chronic pain patients with a medical procedure that lacks evidence of clinical efficacy wastes the country’s health care resources," Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda said.

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