The University of California has agreed to pay $8.5 million in settlements for two lawsuits after a well-known spinal surgeon neglected to disclose his conflicts of interest with a leading device maker before using their products in high-risk surgeries. Dr. Jeffrey Wang had financial ties to the world’s largest medical device company, Medtronic, which led him to place preference on using their products even though the specific uses had not been approved by the FDA.
Doctors are legally allowed to use medications and devices for unapproved treatments if they think it the best way to treat their patients, however, Dr. Wang used a controversial drug without patient consent, without disclosing the fact that he received tens of thousands of dollars from Medtronic to use it, and was encouraged by the company to use it in off-label ways, which is prohibited by federal law. “I chose UCLA and Dr. Wang for my spine surgery based upon their sterling reputations,” said plaintiff Ralph Weiss. “I was astonished and offended when I found out about the conflicts that were never disclosed to me.”
Weiss and the other plaintiff, Jerome Lew, both complain that the use of the drug in their surgeries led to complications, recurring pain and the need for additional operations. The UCLA health system released a statement saying that they agreed to the settlements, “so that UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA could move forward with their ongoing commitment to excellence in patient care, research education and community service.”
Medtronic denied any wrongdoing, saying it did not promote off-label use of its products, and that they did not pay Dr. Wang to use their products. “Dr. Wang was not paid for using the Medtronic products used in the surgery and as of the time of the surgery involving Mr. Lew, he was not a consultant for Medtronic,” the company said in their statement. However, documents used for evidence in the case disclosed that Dr. Wang failed to report nearly $460,000 in payments from Medtronic in 2009, and more than $275,000 from product royalties, consulting work and lectures from 2004 to 2013.
If you are suffering due to medical negligence and illegal product use, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.