Cochlear Implant Maker Accused Of Kickbacks

DENVER (AP) -- A manufacturer of Cochlear implants has agreed to pay $880,000 to the U.S. government to resolve allegations that it paid kickbacks to doctors.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the settlement with Cochlear (COKE'-lear) Americas on Wednesday.

The company in Centennial, Colo., is a subsidiary of Australia's Cochlear Limited and officials referred all questions there. The parent company said in a statement that it denies the allegations, but has agreed to settle to avoid ongoing legal fees and "the uncertainty and expense" of litigation.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by Brenda March in 2004 alleging that Cochlear was enticing doctors to prescribe its electronic hearing devices to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Private citizens with knowledge of fraud are allowed to sue on behalf of the government. March will get $176,000 of the settlement.

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