The Justice Department late last week fileda brief in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, seeking to have a lawsuit filed by Stryker dismissed. The device maker filed its suit in August, apparently hoping to thwart a subpoena issued last February that sought a wealth of documents concerning its relationships with orthopedic physicians.
The US Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in Michigan wants documents about Stryker's dealing with docs and hospitals; marketing and sales budgets and other records concerning orthopedic devices, and assorted documents regarding corporate structure and interactions with physicians. Stryker, by the way, was one of five device makers that last year reached an agreement with the US Attorney in New Jersey to resolve charges they paid kickbacks to docs. The other four paid $310 million; Stryker paid nothing but signed a non-prosecution pact and agreed to reforms.
"The subpoena required production of all responsive documents by April 28, 2008. However, now - eight months after the subpoena was issued - Stryker still has not complied. Instead, Stryker asked the government to delay seeking judicial enforcement of the subpoena, and then filed this improper pre-enforcement action in an apparent attempt to frustrate the government’s investigation into the company’s conduct," the feds wrote in their brief.
In its lawsuit, Stryker calls the subpoena an "overbroad and oppressive" request for documents and maintains some 300,000 pages of material, multiple CD's and a DVD have already been turned over. The device maker claims the government refuses to limit the scope of its subpoena unless Stryker signs an agreement limiting its rights, and also argues the government is probing relationships with doctors in other countries, where Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement is not an issue.