A new U.S. Senate report says employees of Fridley-based Medtronic, Inc. secretly helped write articles in medical journals touting the company's InFuse spinal-surgery product and downplaying the product's downsides.
The report, following a 16-month investigation by the Senate Finance Committee into how Medtronic marketed InFuse, also says the company paid $210 million over 15 years to physicians who authored favorable studies about the product.
Medtronic does not agree with many of the findings in the staff report. In particular, Medtronic vigorously disagrees with any suggestion that the company improperly influenced or authored any of the peer-reviewed published manuscripts discussed in the report, or that Medtronic intended to under-report adverse events
You can read the first 19 pages of the Senate committee's report here by clicking on the PDF thumbnail. For more than 2,000 pages of exhibits in the report's appendix, visit the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance website.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, working with MedPage Today, takes credit for prompting the investigation through their ongoing Side Effects series. According to an article jointly posted at the organizations' websites:
... Medtronic employees, including some working in the company's marketing department, secretly helped academic physician authors produce 11 papers between 2002 and 2009.
Such ghostwriting has been condemned as a breach of integrity and transparency because doctors and patients rely on information in those articles to make medical decisions.