Wright subpoenaed over metal hip implants

Two years after settling kickback charges with the feds, Wright Medical ($WMGI) is under scrutiny again, getting a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's office for documents on its Profemur metal hip implants.

In a regulatory filing, Wright acknowledged the subpoena, but said it's "not an allegation of wrongdoing or product safety issues." The feds want all records and documentation on Profemur from Jan. 1, 2000, to Aug. 2, 2012, and Wright says it plans to cooperate with the request, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Just what the U.S. Attorney is looking for remains unknown, but the request comes as Wright continues to climb out of the shadow of 2010's federal settlement and leadership shakeup.

Wright had to pay $7.9 million to settle charges that it conspired to break anti-kickback laws by paying orthopedic surgeons to use certain Wright products from 2002 to 2007. Since then, Wright has changed leadership, installing CEO Robert Palmisano, and the firm has continued to launch new devices for orthopedics, hoping to reverse the quarterly decreases in sales and income it has taken since running into legal trouble.

Profemur, however, is unlikely to lead Wright out of the darkness. Aside from the vague interest from the feds, all-metal hip implants are rapidly losing favor among patients and physicians, as new information questions their safety and devicemakers, like Stryker ($SYK) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), cope with recalls of similar techs.

- read Wright's filing
- get more from the WSJ (sub. req.)