By: Stephanie Herschaft, Esq.
According to an article in Reuters, on Tuesday February 22, 2012, Medtronic Inc. (MDT.N) reported poor quarterly financial results. These results reflect continued weak demand for Medtronic’s implantable heart defibrillators and spine products, two of its largest moneymakers. Sales in the implantable heart defibrillator unit and the spine products unit each fell 9% in the fiscal third quarter. Medtronic has been performing poorly for the last several years, and this quarter was no different.
Medtronic produces a variety of products used in spine surgery, including Infuse, a genetically engineered bone graft. Infuse is a biologic product that works by stimulating the body to re-grow bone. Infuse sales dipped in 2011 after U.S. lawmakers began to investigate whether Medtronic bribed doctors to silence reports of serious side effects of off-label use of Infuse such as uncontrolled bone growth, neck swelling, difficulty breathing, inflamed tissue, and radiating leg pain. Recently, independent researchers found an increased cancer risk in patients who were treated with Infuse.