The medical device industry is no stranger to whistleblower lawsuits. In fact, these cases are so commonplace that most of the time they don’t even make the front page.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the industry is “extraordinarily corrupt” as one watchdog group claimed a couple years back (MDD, May 8, 2012), but it doesn’t help the image when almost all the leading device companies have been accused at one time or another of offering kickbacks.
The latest such scandal involves Acumed, a company in the Portland area, accused of making bogus payments to doctors and overseas government officials, and then firing the guy who tattled.
Acumed allegedly canned Edward Boehmer about a year ago after he noticed some very unusual payment activity that he was apparently supposed to look the other way on. Some of the claims are, unfortunately, typical kickback accusations, but one particular allegation is a real head-scratcher.
Boehmer said the company paid a doctor “$200 for how to pronounce a word.” Seriously? That sounds like a category on Jeopardy! “I’ll take ‘Pronunciations’ for $200 please.”
But no, really, where can I sign up to be a medical device consultant? I’m not a doctor but I speak fluent English and I’d be happy to offer my pronunciation services. For $200 a pop, of course.