When Renovis Surgical Technologies was acquired by a Japanese technology behemoth, some orthopaedic doctors who had invested in the little California medical device business made a lot of money. Renovis‘ assets were purchased by Kyocera Corp. in 2019, which was looking to grow its spine and joint implant sales in the United States. According to the federal government’s “Open Payments” database, which tracks payments to doctors from device and drug companies.
Renovis‘ physician stockholders had stakes worth more than $34 million by the end of that year, with nearly half of that amount going to company founder and CEO Dr. John Steinmann. Hundreds of orthopedists and neurosurgeons have profited from holdings in firms that design, manufacture, or distribute orthopaedic implants, according to a KHN investigation. This is despite ongoing ethical and legal concerns.
Providing feedback can result in attractive royalty and consulting partnerships for surgeons, as well as stock holdings that appreciate in value when startup device businesses are sold. In other situations, doctors have acquired a stake in companies that buy implants from manufacturers and resale them for a profit.For years, whistleblowers and government anti-fraud investigators have maintained that money flowing from industry to doctors can skew medical judgement, inflate expenses, lead to unneeded surgeries, and injure patients. Some of the toughest criticism has been levelled at surgeons who benefit from the sale of orthopaedic devices, such as spinal implants, screws, and other hardware, as well as thousands-of-dollar prosthetic knees and hips.