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Medtronic to pay $23.5M to settle kickback claims

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The U.S. Justice Department says Medtronic Inc. has agreed to pay $23.5 million to settle allegations that the company paid kickbacks to doctors to implant its pacemakers and defibrillators.

The government alleged that Medtronic caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid by using two post-market studies and two device registries as vehicles to pay illegal kickbacks to doctors.

Each of the studies and registries required a new or previous implant of a Medtronic device in each patient. In each case, Medtronic paid doctors a fee ranging from about $1,000 to $2,000 per patient. The government contended that Fridley, Minn.-based Medtronic solicited doctors for the studies to get them to use its devices.

A Medtronic spokesman says the company didn't admit wrongdoing as part of the civil settlement. 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)