At the Medtronic annual shareholder meeting last week, CEO Bill Hawkins defended the company’s history of physician collaboration, though he noted that the relationships may create conflicts of interest.
However, the probes by the Justice Department and the Congress into the relationships prompted one shareholder to state that he was shocked by how much Medtronic paid physician “consultants.” For example, Medtronic paid Dr. David Polly the tidy sum of $1.2 million between 2003 and 2007. Hawkins says that his company monitors payments to physicians to avoid conflicts of interest.
Call us skeptical and jaded, but this is a story we’ve seen time and time again. It is interesting that Medtronic is professing themselves to be mostly free of blame—we look forward to the outcome of the investigations to see just how well Medtronic monitored the conflicts.
For more on this issue, see our previous post, “Doctors in their Pockets.”