Abbott forks over $5.5M to settle physician kickback allegations

Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) will pay nearly $5.5 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it paid doctors to encourage the purchase of its various stents and implant products.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement, noting that the payment resolves allegations that the Abbott Park, IL-based company paid "kickbacks to induce doctors to implant the company's carotid, biliary and peripheral vascular products."

Abbott had been accused of paying prominent physicians for various teaching assignments, speaking engagements and conference appearances so they'd arrange the use of Abbott's products at their affiliated hospitals. Former Abbott employees Stephen Peters and Douglas Gray made the initial allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit, the U.S. government said. The False Claims Act lets them share in any award, and they'll receive more than $1 million from the settlement, according to the release.

An Abbott spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that the company settled the lawsuit to avoid a costly legal battle and was pleased to have the matter behind it.

- read the DOJ release
- here's the WSJ's take (sub. req.)

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