U.S. Prosecutors Seek Prison Time in Medical Device Case


Three patients died during what prosecutors later called an illegal clinical trial of a bone cement promoted by Synthes Inc., a medical device maker near West Chester, Pa., and its wholly owned subsidiary Norian Inc., reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Pharmaceutical executives rarely get prison time for corporate crimes, but federal prosecutors in Philadelphia this week will argue for sentencing guidelines that could mean up to a year in prison for four former Synthes executives in connection with the illegal testing and marketing of Norian bone cement.

Court documents show that former Synthes board member and spine surgeon Ken Lambert referred to the trials in e-mails to company leaders as “human experimentation whose only defense seems to be that it will be a small study.” Lambert was soon fired. “This is an egregious case, and it made us firm in our belief that we should draw a line here,” Greg Demske of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said when the companies pleaded guilty.

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