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7 November 2007

Are Artificial Joint Makers Bribing Doctors?

The hips and knees are synthetic, but it's real money changing hands. Five makers of artificial joints have paid more than $200 million this year to doctors and hospitals, often the same ones who are deciding which company's joints to buy, according to an Associated Press calculation of disclosures required this week by a settlement with federal prosecutors.

The five companies were scrutinized by the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey over allegations they gave money and trips to surgeons who used their products. Four of them -- Biomet Inc., DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., Smith & Nephew Inc. and Zimmer Holdings Inc. -- had their charges dropped when they paid a total of $310 million in fines and agreed to monitoring in a settlement announced in September. The fifth company, Stryker Corp., was never charged and paid no fines but agreed to disclose its payments.

* The Washington Post November 2, 2007

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