OIG’s Morris: An enforcer’s perspective

By Lewis Morris, JD

Relationships between physicians and the healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and suppliers, are under intense scrutiny. The popular press and professional journals are raising questions about the ability of physicians to maintain their professional integrity in an environment where lucrative physician-industry deals flourish.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice are committing substantial resources to the investigation and prosecution of companies and individuals who engage in illegal schemes disguised as consulting arrangements. In September 2007, four major medical device manufacturers entered into civil settlement agreements with the government, collectively paying $311 million in fines to resolve allegations that they provided illegal financial incentives to induce physicians to use a particular company’s artificial hip and knee reconstruction and replacement products.

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