Feds target joint docs in kickbacks probe

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Federal investigators are zeroing in on individual hip and knee surgeons in an investigation into kickbacks to doctors by orthopedic device manufacturers, The New York Times reports.

US attorney for the district of New Jersey Christopher Christie recently addressed the sales meetings of five companies, the Times said, quoting a Stryker executive as saying Christie told them “I've dealt with the supply issue, now I need to deal with the demand issue.”

Four companies – Biomet, Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics, Smith & Nephew and Zimmer Holdings – agreed to pay a combined total of $310 million to settle civil charges related to the inquest in September. Stryker was included in that settlement but did not pay a fine, as it was the first to cooperate in the investigation. All entered corporate integrity agreements.

The firms were accused of paying kickbacks to doctors in the form of consulting fees in exchange for recommending their products to patients.

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