Medtronic named in qui tam stent case

Last month, it appeared as if Medtronic had avoided being sued for promoting biliary stents for off-label purposes. But now the Minnesota-based company now joins the likes of Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and Abbott in facing just this accusation.

Two former Medtronic employees, Tricia Nowak and Enda Dodd, filed a qui tam suit in Boston on behalf of the U.S. government, 22 states and the District of Columbia, accusing the company of off-label promotion, according to Mass Device. The suit also accuses the company of ultimately firing the pair.

The two say Medtronic promoted the use of the biliary stents to treat obstructions in peripheral blood vessels. Furthermore, the whistleblowers claim that roughly 90 percent of Medtronics' biliary stent sales are made for off-label use. Biliary stenting is used if there is an obstruction in the duct that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder or from the gallbladder to the small intestine.

Medtronic says it "is aware of the complaint and intends to vigorously dispute its allegations, including filing a motion to dismiss at the outset of the case. We don't comment on any specific allegations," according to the Wall Street Journal.

In January, another qui tam lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas accused Boston Scientific, Abbott and Johnson & Johnson of engaging in similar practices.

News of the lawsuit comes as Medtronic reported revenue of $3.85 billion for the quarter that ended Jan. 29.

- see Medtronic's earnings announcement
- check out the WSJ's coverage
- read Mass Device's item