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Senators Say Cardiologist May Not Have Reported All Medical Device Payments

Sep 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

A prominent cardiologist with ties to Columbia University is facing questions regarding his ties to medical devices makers, the New York Times is reporting.   According to the Times report, two U.S. Senators are concerned that Dr. Martin B. Leon may not have reported all payments he received from companies like Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and the Volcano Corporation to Columbia.

According to the Times, Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-Wisc.) have been investigating Dr. Leon's financial relationship with the medical device industry since last year.  Last October, they sent letters to the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) and Columbia University regarding Dr. Leon and several other physicians.  According to the Times, CRF sponsors an annual conference - the Transcatheter Cardiovascular conference - that has highlighted products developed by companies in which Dr. Leon and other CRF-affiliated doctors have financial stakes.

The letter to CRF was seeking information about its support for a medical device conference promoting cardiac devices and techniques.  The letters to both Columbia and CRF asked for a detailed breakdown of information on all outside income earned by 21 physicians affiliated with the university and CRF.  The 21 included Dr. Leon, who  formerly headed the group. The Columbia letter also requested information on funding the university received from Abbott, Medtronic, Medinol, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and CRF.  

In their latest letter, which was sent to Columbia on Friday, Sens. Kohl and Grassley said a  review  of the information they requested last year indicated Dr. Leon failed to report "significant" amounts in consulting fees, speaking fees and other payments to Columbia, the Times said.  The letter asserted the undisclosed payments totaled millions of dollars.

According to the Times, Dr. Leon did file amended disclosure forms with Columbia last December, after Kohl and Grassley began their probe.  However, the Senators' letter said that their review indicated that Dr. Leon did not disclose all payments, even in those amended reports.


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