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Boston Scientific gets subpoena over defibrillators

Medical device maker Boston Scientific said it received a subpoena this week from the Department of Health and Human Services seeking information about the performance of some of its implanted defibrillators.

The subpoena, received on May 5, requested information related to the 2008 launch of two brands of implanted cardioverter defibrillators made by Boston Scientific, the company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

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Implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICDs, treat arrhythmias by shocking a dangerously racing heartbeat back into a normal rhythm.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building, Washington, DC.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building, Washington, DC.

The subpoena was issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the HHS, which is responsible for identifying fraud and waste in government health programs such as the Medicare and Medicaid.

Boston Scientific, which competes with Medtronic and St. Jude Medical in selling ICDs, said it is cooperating with the request.

The industry has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for allegedly using kickbacks to gain market share and increase the use of their devices among physicians.

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Earlier this week, St. Jude Medical said it received a civil investigative demand from the U.S. Department of Justice in April related to its cardiac devices.

The Justice Department is investigating if St. Jude paid inducements to health care providers in exchange for implanting its devices, the company said in a filing this week.

Last October, Boston Scientific agreed to pay $30 million to settle Department of Justice allegations that the Guidant unit it acquired in 2006 knowingly sold defective heart devices implanted in Medicare patients.

By Reuters

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