Nearly 50 Docs Accused in Spanish Kickback Scandal
By Brian Buntz
Spain is being rocked by one of the biggest medical crises in decades according to the newspaper El País. Thousands of patients may have been implanted with devices that were marketed illegally. In some cases, patients were treated with defective devices and devices that were used past their expiration dates—sometimes as much as 10 years after they had expired. At present, more than 6000 patients in Spain are being closely monitored for adverse events in the wake of the scandal, which involves the company’s knee, hip, and spine implants.
At the heart of the affair is the company Traiber S.L., a hip, knee, and spin implant maker that has also been accused of hiding quality problems related to its knee prostheses from 2010 to 2014. (The company’s website, www.traiber.es is now offline.) A total of 47 doctors have been named in the affair, whose names have been published in a document hosted by El País.
A search of Traiber’s headquarters by Spanish authorities reportedly found widespread evidence of royalties paid to doctors for each of the company’s implants they used. The amount of royalties varied depending on the type of patient, ranging from €400 to more than €5600 in some cases, such as those involving patients without insurance.
The most recent case came to light after Traiber employees filed a legal complaint accusing the company’s management of wrongdoing. The company’s managers “had crossed all ethical and legal limits,” according to employees anonymously quoted in El País. “After once making products with state-of-the-art components, bosses began resorting to increasingly cheap suppliers. After that, they stopped making their own products altogether and began reusing equipment samples that were not meant for use in patients. The last step was when they started selling items that had expired years ago after tampering with the seals.”