Feds take look at Invacare's co-op ads

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ELYRIA, Ohio - The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed Invacare for documents related to "three long-standing and well-known promotional and rebate programs" the manufacturer offers to HME providers.
Invacare revealed the news in a January press release.
"If they are issuing a subpoena, it is serious in their minds," said healthcare attorney Neil Caesar, president of the Health Law Center in Greenville, S.C. "It doesn't mean that Invacare has done anything wrong, but it almost always means (the DOJ) has done some preliminary digging, and they think it is worth going further."
In its press release, Invacare stated that it "believes the programs described in the subpoena are in compliance with all applicable laws. The company is cooperating fully with the government inquiry, which is being conducted out of Washington, D.C."
Invacare Senior Vice President and General Counsel Dale LaPorte declined to name the programs being investigated, but those programs are still being offered, he said.
"We wrestled with what to say in that release," LaPorte said. "We don't want to get out ahead of the government people, but I don't want to spook anyone out in the market, either."
News of the Invacare subpoena comes about two months after the Office of Inspect General (OIG) issued an advisory opinion that questioned the legality of the advertising assistance some manufacturers offer providers.
The OIG gives an advisory opinion when asked a specific question about the legality of a particular action. The OIG keeps the name of the party asking the question confidential.