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U.S. Intervenes in St. Jude Whistleblower Case

After initial and lengthy investigation, the United States declined in December 2009 to intervene in a qui tam whistleblower case brought by a former employee of St. Jude Medical, Inc., a St. Paul-based major manufacturer and supplier of medically implantable devices.

Upon further examination, the U.S. now says it has "good cause to intervene," and has filed a motion to do so against the company in a Boston federal court.

Charles Donigian first brought the case against St. Jude several years ago, when he was an employee serving as a technical service specialist for the company in St. Louis. In an amended complaint that Donigian filed in January of this year, he alleged that St. Jude paid money to doctors, hospitals and other care providers in return for them prescribing its products to patients. He also claimed that St. Jude "repeatedly" broke American anti-kickback law by paying "sham fees" for fake research studies, and that the company additionally provided medical professionals and, occasionally, their families with "entertainment, gifts, travel, vacations, temporary staff, tickets to sporting events, 'educational' events at luxury resorts and other illegal inducements."

St. Jude seeks dismissal of Donigian's complaint, calling him a "disgruntled former employee" whose allegations add nothing of substance beyond what is already known in the public domain. The company also states that it objects to the government's motion and will "vigorously defend" against it.

Related Resource: www.reuters.com "U.S. seeks role in latest St. Jude whistleblower case" August 6, 2010

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