MN company agrees to pay $9.2 million to settle allegations of improper payments to SD neurosurgeon

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WASHINGTON (KELO) — The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that Medtronic, a Minnesota-based company, has agreed to pay $8.1 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to persuade a South Dakota neurosurgeon to use certain Medtronic products.

Medtronic will also pay an additional $1.11 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Open Payments Program by failing to accurately report payments it made to the neurosurgeon to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The settlement resolves allegations that Medtronic agreed to the requests of South Dakota neurosurgeon, Wilson Asfora, M.D., to pay for social events and meals at Carnaval Brazilian Grill, a restaurant Medtronic knew Asfora owned.

The DOJ in a news release says Medtronic allegedly made the payments to benefit Asfora and induce him to use Medtronic’s SynchroMed II intrathecal infusion pumps, which are implantable devices used to deliver medication to patients. 

The United States alleged that Medtronic-sponsored events at Asfora’s restaurant were social gatherings for which Asfora selected and invited his social acquaintances, business partners, favored colleagues, and potential and existing referral sources, while Medtronic paid for their meals and drinks. 

Over a nine-year period, Medtronic allegedly paid for more than one hundred events at Asfora’s restaurant.

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