Medtronic Completes Half of Planned 1,000 Job Cuts Following Slow Sales in Spine, Heart Units

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Medtronic Completes Half of Planned 1,000 Job Cuts Following Slow Sales in Spine, Heart UnitsOverview: Medtronic is laying off another 500 workers in an effort to save millions per year; the job cuts are a part of larger restructuring plan by the company after it suffered losses due to Infuse. The spine growth product became a subject of controversy due to reports of alleged bribery and life-threatening complications.

  • Medtronic is laying off 500 people; in May, the company announced 1,000 job cuts in the spine and cardiac units
  • Infuse is associated with potentially fatal complications, particularly when used off-label
  • Last June, the Spine Journal dedicated an entire issue to the Infuse; researchers questioned the credibility of Medtronic-funded studies, suggesting that the device maker paid its researchers to downplay side effects

Product: Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft

Manufacturer: Medtronic, Inc.

Side Effects & Complications

  • Cancer
  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing
  • Uncontrolled bone growth
  • Nerve injury
  • Male sterility
  • Retrograde ejaculation

Job Cuts Announced After Slow Sales

In May, Medtronic announced that it was laying off 1,000 workers after seeing a drop in sales in the cardiac and spine units. At the time, the company said that sales in the spinal division had decreased 26 percent. The decline might be partially attributed to Medtronic Infuse, a product that has led to numerous lawsuits and two federal investigations.

With the 500 layoffs, Medtronic has completed half of its planned job cuts. According to Bloomberg News, the company expects to be done with the job cuts by the end of the 2013 fiscal year. Medtronic estimates that the job cuts will save it $100-125 million yearly.

Complications Associated with Medtronic Infuse

In recent years, Medtronic has been under increasing scrutiny over Infuse, a product that stimulates growth in the spine. The device has raised serious health concerns, mostly associated with its off-label use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the product for certain regions of the spine, but some doctors have used it in “off-label” procedures. In 2008, the FDA warned that using Infuse in the cervical neck, an unapproved method, could lead to life-threatening complications such as swelling of the neck and throat.

Concerns over Infuse intensified last June, when the Spine Journal dedicated an entire issue to its side effects. According to author Dr. Eugene Carragee, Medtronic may have paid doctors to downplay side effects such as male sterility, swelling of the neck, difficulty breathing, infection, increased leg and back pain and cancer. Medtronic said Infuse sales fell 17 percent following the publication.