Infuse bone growth product garners more controversy for Medtronic

Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) faces new heat over the Infuse bone growth product, this time for allegations that the therapy caused excess bone growth in the spinal canal of 70 percent of patients in an independent clinical trial.

In what has become a familiar cry against the Infuse product, doctors on the company’s payroll were accused of concealing vital information from published studies.

A 2004 paper written about a clinical trial conducted by MDT’s paid consultants maintained that no harm was done to patients and that any excess bone growth, known as ectopic bone, didn’t cause any ill effects.

Just a few months ago, a clinical trial found that nearly three quarters of patients had unwanted bone growth in their spinal canals, and the trial was cut off after only 34 of hundreds of enrolled patients had received the implant, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.


The allegations continue to stack the deck against the Infuse implant, which has been widely used to fuse spinal vertebrae during surgeries since 2002.

A study published last month accused the Fridley, Minn.-based company of concealing that the bio-engineered bone growth protein can increase the risk of infertility in men. Last week two U.S. Senators demanded that the medical device giant turn over documents relating to internal correspondence with paid consultants and researchers who worked on product trials, expanding the investigation into whether physicians on the company’s payroll concealed the infertility risk.

A critical review of Infuse’s complications will be published in the Spine Journal this week.

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