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By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Synthes unit will pay $9.75 million to settle U.S. Justice Department charges that DePuy illegally provided free products to a Massachusetts surgeon who used them in surgeries of the spine in six Middle Eastern countries.
According to settlement documents, the surgeon used more than $100,000 of DePuy implants and instruments between July 2013 and February 2018 in more than 20 surgeries in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and in the United Arab Emirates.
The Justice Department said DePuy provided the products to entice the surgeon to use its products in spine surgeries he performed in Boston on patients who, unlike surgeries abroad, were covered. by the Medicare and Medicaid government health programs.
The activity violated federal misrepresentation law and an anti-bribery law designed to ensure doctors act in the best interests of their patients without being compromised by improper financial inducements, the Department of Health said. Justice.
The $9.75 million payment includes a fine of $4.33 million and restitution of $5.42 million. A whistleblower, Aleksej Gusakovs, will receive approximately $1.85 million from the settlement. The Justice Department credited DePuy for his cooperation in the investigation.
In a statement, DePuy said the settlement avoids lengthy additional legal proceedings and that it is “committed to ensuring that our employees conduct their business in a manner consistent with our creed and all laws and regulations.”
The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to sue on behalf of the government and share in recoveries. DePuy is based in Raynham, Massachusetts, and Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New York.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)