Guidant, LLC, maker of a cardiac defibrillator, pled guilty to criminal violations of the Food and Dug Administration Cosmetic Act which requires that medical device companies disclose risks of serious injury and death that are associated with their products. The Guidant defibrillator was used in cardiac surgery to produce a shock to restart the heart when the device detects that the heart fails. Guidant apparently was aware that there were short circuit failures in their Ventak Prizm 2 DR (Model 1861) and the Contak Renewal (Models H135 and H155), but failed to disclose this information to the proper authorities or the public.
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations spent four years investigating this case before determining that criminal allegations must be brought against the manufacturer. The affected Guidant defibrillator models were designed to detect and treat irregular heart rhythms, but when they fail due to short circuiting can result in sudden death momentarily. In the end, Guidant admitted to making a false statement about the Ventak Prizm 2DR device and failing to notify the FDA that the company made a correction to the Contak Renewal devices in order to reduce the risk of sudden death.
Guidant, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boston Scientific Corporation, has now been presented with the largest criminal penalty imposed on a medical device company that failed to meet FDA requirements in the Cosmetic Act.