Medtronic Spine Division to Lay Off Employees

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Overview: Earlier this week, Medtronic confirmed that it is going to lay off employees in its spinal division in an effort to cut overall costs by 5 percent. According to Mass Device, the layoffs are affecting an undisclosed number of employees at various locations. This is not the first time Medtronic’s spine division has showed signs of struggling. Following the controversy over Medtronic Infuse bone graft, the company has seen slowing sales. At around the same time last year, the company had also said that they may be laying off employees.

  • Medtronic is laying off employees in the spinal division in an effort to cut overall costs by 5 percent
  • At around the same time last year, Medtronic has also announced possible layoffs in the spine division
  • Medtronic spine has suffered from Infuse, a bone graft product that became the subject of controversy due to reports that the company paid doctors to hide serious 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

 

Spine Facility May Lose 50 Workers

Mass Device reports that Medtronic does not plan to release details about the layoffs until next month, but there are already suspicions that that the spinal facility in Warsaw, Indiana could lose as many as 50 employees. Cindy Resman, spokeswoman for Medtronic, said that the company is using “targeted employee reductions in certain business functions and locations” in order to cut overall costs by 5 percent. Mass Device notes that this is not the first time Medtronic Spine workers have had to face layoffs; Medtronic made a similar announcement about a year ago, reporting that sales in its spinal and cardiac rhythm management units had slowed. In February, the company’s spinal division had suffered a 3 percent decline. A part of that loss, they said, could be contributed to Infuse.

Medtronic Infuse Background

Infuse is an artificial bone graft product that was introduced in 2002. It uses recombinant human Bone Morphogenetic Protein (rhBMP-2) to help regrow bone in the spine during lumbar fusion. It is also approved for two types of dental surgery. In June 2011, the product came under fire after a group of spine experts got together and criticized Medtronic-funded research that allegedly failed to mention serious side effects such as male sterility and cancer. The findings, published in The Spine Journal, fueled several government investigations. Last year, a Senate report showed that doctors listed at authors were paid millions by Medtronic. Furthermore, the report stated that Medtronic employees had helped write and edit positive Infuse studies. Medtronic has recruited Yale to conduct an independent review of Infuse to determine the efficacy and side effects of Infuse. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale, is leading the review, Krumholz told Bloomberg that “Sometimes what you are reading about in a study may not be everything…We have to change the way this kind of science has been conducted.”