Stryker Medical, manufacturer of the defective LFIT hip replacement product, is what can best be described as a “repeat offender.” Over two years ago, the company agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement over the Rejuvenate ABG II Modular-Neck hip replacement, a product of its Howmedica subsidiary. A year before that, Stryker paid a $13.4 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after allegedly bribing overseas physicians to the tune of $2.2 million. This month, an Oregon state lawmaker was called to account after it was revealed that had a financial relationship with Stryker, dating back to the year 2000.
GOP state representative Knute Buehler of Bend is the target of an ethics complaint filed against him by the Oregon Democratic Party. According to the allegations Buehler failed to disclose almost $100,000 in payments he had received from the Stryker Corporation and Pfizer, Inc. when he filed is mandatory Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) for 2014-16. The complaint notes that both Stryker and Pfizer have contracts with the state of Oregon as well as legislative interests in Salem.
Buehler, who is an orthopedic surgeon, received direct payments from Stryker between 2013 and 2015 totaling more than $68,250 for consulting services, speaking, travel and meals, according to information available at Open Payments Data. None of these payments were listed on his SEI as required by state law.
According to Brad Martin, executive director of the Democratic Party of Oregon, Buehler concealed his relationship with Stryker because he was worried about what voters would think. In a statement, he said,
“We contend that as a candidate and a state legislator, Rep. Buehler knowingly and purposely hid his financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device corporations. Rep. Buehler knew his campaigns would be damaged by being associated with a company like Stryker, that has paid millions for violating the laws and to settle lawsuits from patients whose surgeries were botched.”
In response, Buehler called the allegations “false and politically motivated,” and “an abuse of the ethics process.”
In addition to his financial relationship with Stryker, Buehler received a direct payment of $1000 from Pfizer for reasons not entirely clear, and $12,500 from the St. Charles Health System, a local health care provider with state contracts and legislative interests where he served as a paid board member. Neither of these payments were disclosed on his SEI.