UCLA Spine Surgeon Faces Probe for Allegedly Failing to Disclose Industry PaymentsJul 22, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Another top spine surgeon is in trouble because of his financial ties to the medical device industry. According to The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Jeffrey Wang has left his position as executive director of the spine center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The school is investigating the doctor's research after he allegedly failed to disclose payments from medical device makers.
According to the Journal, Dr. Wang conducted research on products made by the following companies while at the University:
- Medtronic Inc., which paid Dr. Wang $275,000 in royalty and consulting payments from 2003 through 2008;
- DePuy Spine Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson, paid Dr. Wang $125,900 in royalty and consulting payments from 2002 through 2008;
- Facet Solutions Inc., a company in which Dr. Wang acquired options for 18,000 shares of stock;
- Paradigm Spine LLC, an entity related to another company in which Dr. Wang received options for 20,000 shares of stock;
- FzioMed Inc., which paid Dr. Wang $144,000 from 2002 through 2008.
Dr. Wang violated the University's guidelines between 2002 and 2008 by allegedly failing to disclose these financial relationships, the Journal said. Only in the case of Medtronic did Dr. Wang report some - but not all - of the payments.
According to the Journal, UCLA has appointed a committee to investigate Dr. Wang's work and determine whether the payments affected his research and "if there are any mitigating actions needed to ensure the integrity of the research results."
While most medical schools require that researchers disclose any payments or financial relationships they have with the medical industry, such rules are often violated. Just last week, we reported that another spine surgeon, Dr. Timothy Kuklo had failed to report his financial relationship with Medtronic to Washington University medical school in St. Louis. When he failed to make that disclosure, Kuklo was working on two studies that involved Medtronic products, the Journal said. The University said it stopped Kuklo’s Medtronic-related research in February of 2008, and learned of his relationship with the company in May 2007. Dr. Kuklo is currently on a paid personal leave at the request of the university.
Dr. Kuklo is the former Army surgeon who has been accused of falsifying data in a study involving Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft product that he conducted while on the staff of Walter Reed Army Hospital.