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Drugs & Medical Devices

Olympus Corporation Set Aside $450M for an Expected Settlement

— June 1, 2015

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Olympus Corporation set aside $450M for an expected settlement regarding its marketing practices. It’s already on the hook for its duodenoscopes, which are very hard to clean and have caused a number of superbug outbreaks in the U.S. Olympus failed to timely warn hospitals in the U.S. and three people died.

Now federal investigators are checking into the sales records from 2006 to 2011 for the possibility that Olympus was offering kickbacks to doctors and other potential customers as incentives to buy the scopes. Many healthcare companies have been charged in recent years for the same violation. These companies were engaged in such practices as giving gifts, consulting fees and trips to potential customers.

Olympus Corporation certainly doesn’t need more scrutiny. At least from its point of view, that is. I think it’s certainly a good thing that this company is being investigated. It warned hospitals and doctors in Europe of the problems with its duodenoscopes two years before it warned customers in the U.S. Outbreaks of the deadly superbug have ranged from UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center to Cedars Sinai Medical Center. A total of twelve patients were infected, three of whom died.

A federal panel issued its conclusion this month that the duodenoscopes were unsafe as designed.

At the risk of sounding cheeky, this is a bunch of crap. If Olympus Corporation could knowingly fail to warn U.S. hospitals when, two years before, it warned those in Europe, I don’t find it hard to believe that it may also be engaging in questionable, even illegal, marketing practices. Obviously, there’s something about the European system that must be much stricter than that in the U.S. to have made Olympus issue any warnings at all.

As the company thinks it can get away with murder on U.S. soil, why not a little friendly bribery in the form of kickbacks? One must wonder if the doctors who treated the twelve affected patients were on the list of those receiving “special incentives.” One must also wonder how those doctors feel now, especially after three deaths. Then again, Olympus could be completely innocent of wrongdoing regarding its marketing practices.

And pigs will fly out of my duodenum.


Scope maker Olympus expects to settle U.S. claims over marketing

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