Congress probes med device payments

Should device makers retain surgeons as consultants? That's what the Senate Special Committee on Aging plans to discuss today at a hearing over some $221 million in payments five companies made to docs in 2007.

The companies--Zimmer Holdings, Biomet, Stryker, Smith & Nephew, and Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics--agreed to disclose those payments in September to settle government allegations that they violated anti-kickback laws. Four of the companies agreed to pay $310 million to settle kickback claims.

Sen. Herb Kohl, chair of the Senate committee, has proposed legislation that would mandate disclosure of the consulting payments.

- read the story in the Wall Street Journal