Spine surgeon to pay $200K for receiving devicemaker kickbacks

Spine

Tony Tannoury, MD, will pay $200,000 to resolve accusations he violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act over alleged kickbacks from DePuy Synthes.

From at least July 2016 through February 2018 he received spine devices including cages, rods, screws, plates and modular access and retraction systems for surgeries, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts said May 31. He completed at least five surgeries with the devices in countries including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar. 

Dr. Tannoury never paid the devicemaker for the products and continued using DePuy products for surgeries in Boston.

In January DePuy Synthes, Johnson & Johnson's orthopedic company, agreed to pay $9.75 million to resolve allegations that it gave an orthopedic surgeon free spinal implants that were used in overseas cases. 

"All government claims against the company have been resolved as part of a civil settlement," a spokesperson for DePuy Synthes said in a May 31 statement to Becker's. "The settlement was not an admission of liability under any applicable laws. We are committed to conducting business in a way that complies with our Credo and with all laws and regulations."

An attorney for Dr. Tannoury said the surgeon agreed to a civil settlement but didn't admit to the violating the Anti-Kickback Statute.  

"Like all surgeons, Dr. Tannoury was not responsible for ensuring that hospitals were billed for surgical devices," the statement said. "Dr. Tannoury had no role in hospital, patient or medical device billing. Dr. Tannoury was not aware that the devices he used in overseas surgeries were not invoiced to the hospitals, as he was a guest surgeon. Medical device companies bill the hospital with no  involvement by the surgeons. Dr. Tannoury's primary focus was and remains to provide the most safe and effective patient care possible directly or through mentoring other surgeons."

This article was updated June 3 to include a statement from Dr. Tannoury's attorney.

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