U.S. indicts three veterans healthcare providers over MiMedx payments

(Reuters) – Three healthcare providers with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were indicted on charges they excessively used biotech MiMedx Group Inc’s products on patients after accepting meals, trips and gratuities from the company.

Donna Becker, 54, Dr. Marcela Dolores Farrer, 53, and Carol Guardiola, 65, were accused in an indictment filed in federal court in Greenville, South Carolina, on Tuesday of improperly taking thousands of dollars from MiMedx.

News of the indictment on Wednesday pushed the price of Marietta, Georgia-based MiMedx down sharply. In afternoon trading on Nasdaq, it was down $1.03, or 12.86 percent, at $6.98.

MiMedx did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for the defendants could not be immediately identified.

According to the indictment, Becker, Farrer and Guardiola from 2012 to 2016 cultivated relationships with MiMedx sales representatives and received benefits from the company in the form of meals, salaries, trips, gifts and other gratuities.

The indictment said that Becker, a nurse practitioner, and Farrer, a physician, had not just received gratuities but also participated in speaking engagements on MiMedx’s behalf aimed at increasing sales to VA facilities.

The indictment said that Becker and Farrer received $19,897 and $3,300 to promote and make recommendations and requests for orders for the company’s skin graft product, EpiFix.

Becker, Farrer and Guardiola, a physical therapist, were charged with conspiracy and acts affecting a personal financial interest. Farrer and Becker were also charged with one count each of bribery of public officials and witnesses.

The case is U.S. v. Becker, U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, No. 18-cr-481.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jonathan Oatis