Conflict of Interest and Medical Devices: Investigating the Relationship between Physicians and the Medical Device Industry
In a world in which technologies proliferate at a rapid rate, it is no surprise that the medical device industry has grown in leaps and bounds. This surge in medical technology, especially implantable medical technology, has altered the modern operating room, transforming surgery from a technique-driven activity into a technology-driven profession. This reliance upon technologies has fostered close ties between physicians and the medical device industry and within this relationship, medical device representatives play an integral role. This paper will investigate the relationship that exists between physicians and the medical device industry along with the potential conflicts of interest that may result due to this relationship. I will focus in particular on orthopedic medical devices due to media attention as a result of a 2007 Department of Justice settlement involving the leading orthopedic companies. This case proved instrumental in highlighting previously unknown instances in which conflicts of interest were occurring in the medical device industry.