Medtronic Cited for Ongoing Infusion Pump Violations

The FDA announced the filing of a consent decree against Medtronic, Inc., and two of the company’s officers for repeatedly failing to correct violations, related to the manufacture of Synchromed II Implantable Infusion Pump Systems. These pumps are medical devices that deliver medication to treat primary or metastatic cancer, chronic pain, and severe spasticity. The violations occurred at the company’s Neuromodulation facilities in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where the devices are manufactured.


The consent decree cites violations of the quality system regulation for medical devices, which requires manufacturers to have processes in place to assure that the design, manufacture, and distribution of a device allows for its safe use.


The legal action requires the company to stop manufacturing, designing and distributing new Synchromed II Implantable Infusion Pump Systems except in very limited cases, such as when a physician determines that the Synchromed II Implantable Infusion Pump System is medically necessary for a patient’s treatment. The consent decree also requires Medtronic to retain a third-party expert to help develop and submit plans to the FDA to correct violations. The consent decree will remain in effect until the FDA has determined that Medtronic has met all the provisions listed in the consent decree.


Once Medtronic receives permission from the FDA to resume the design, manufacture, and distribution of these products, the company must continue to submit audit reports so the agency can verify the company’s compliance. In addition to these audits, the FDA will monitor the company’s activities through its own inspections.


The FDA first approved the Synchromed II Implantable Infusion Pump Systems in 2004, and first identified problems with the manufacture of these pumps in 2006. These problems can result in over- or under-infusion or a delay in therapy for patients.


Between 2006 and 2013, FDA investigators conducted five inspections at Medtronic’s Neuromodulation facilities, resulting in three warning letters notifying the company of major violations. The violations included inadequate processes for identifying, investigating, and correcting quality problems with the Synchromed II Implantable Infusion Pump Systems; failure to document design changes; and failure to ensure that finished products meet design specifications.


“The FDA expects that all patients will be treated with safe, effective and high-quality medical devices,” said Jan Welch, acting director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We will continue to stop distribution of devices made by firms that fall short of regulatory requirements.”


See the FDA Announcement


See also Medical Law Perspectives, June 2014 Report: Physician and Manufacturer Risks for Pain Pump Injuries: Malpractice, Negligence, and Products Liability


See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2013 Report: Drugs, Dosage, and Damage: Physician Liability for Prescribing or Administering Medication


See the Medical Law Perspectives February 10, 2015, Blog: Infusion Pump Failures: Product Liability and Human Error