MEMPHIS, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A whistleblower lawsuit accuses Medtronic of paying doctors thousands of dollars in consulting fees to get them to use its spinal implants.
In court papers, lawyers say that one Wisconsin surgeon received $400,000 for a consulting contract that required eight days of work, while another, in Virginia, was paid almost $700,000 in the first nine months of 2005, the New York Times reported.
Jacqueline Kay Poteet, a former manager of travel services for Medtronic, filed the lawsuit in Memphis. Her job included making travel arrangements for doctors who traveled to conferences on Medtronic's dime.
If the Minneapolis-based company settles with the Justice Department, Poteet, who left her job because of disability in 2003, will get a percentage of the settlement. The Justice Department has not yet formally intervened in the lawsuit, although the Times said it has offered Medtronic a $40 million settlement.
A company spokesman said that consulting arrangements with doctors are critical to improving its product.