Hip, knee implant makers agree to pay $311,000,000.00 settlement


Registered User
Jan 26, 2005
The nation's largest manufacturers of hip and knee implants today agreed to pay $311 million to settle allegations that they bribed top surgeons to recommend their products.

Agents gathered evidence that orthopedic surgeons routinely accepted lavish vacations, gifts and annual "consulting fees" as high as $200,000 from medical device makers in return for endorsing their implants or using them in operations.

The 30-month investigation, headed by federal prosecutors in New Jersey, marks one of the larger settlements of its kind and follows a wave of cases to spotlight questionable ethics within the health care industry.

"With these agreements in place, we expect doctors to make decisions based on what is the best interest of their patients - not the best interest of their bank account," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said in a statement.

The agreements covered five firms, including DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Johnson and Johnson. Together, the companies control more than 90 percent of the U.S. market in reconstructive implants, a billion-dollar field expected to surge in coming years.

Three of the manufacturers -- DePuy, Zimmer Holdings and Biomet, Inc. -- are based in Warsaw, Ind. The others are Stryker Corp., of Kalamazoo, Mich. and Smith and Nephew PLC, of London.

The civil settlements ranged from $169 million for Zimmer to $26.9 million for Biomet, based in part on the market share of each defendant, authorities said. Stryker will not pay any money.

In criminal complaints filed in federal district court in Newark, the companies admitted paying surgeons consulting fees that violated the federal Medicare Fraud Statute. The law prohibits companies from offering inducements to doctors who participate in Medicare. About two-thirds of the 700,000 knee and hip replacement surgeries performed each year are covered by Medicare.

As part of the agreement, each will also pay for a federal monitor to supervise their practices for 18 months. The monitors include former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the former U.S. Attorneys for New York and Los Angeles.

View the settlements and complaints


There's nothing quite like a shorn scrotum.
Nov 12, 2004
Queens, NY
And I've researching hip replacements. I was leaning towards the Stryker, still think it's the best.