Aetna Rips the Lid off the Cavitat Conspiracy

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Aetna is countersuing a device manufacturer who made the mistake of filing a lawsuit accusing Aetna of improperly classifying the Cavitat device as "investigational and experimental." The counterclaim documents accuse Cavitat Medical Technologies and buyers of its Cavitat ultrasound device of participating in an elaborate conspiracy to defraud patients, the FDA, and insurance companies [1,2].

The Cavitat device is claimed to help dentists diagnose neuralgia-inducing cavitational osteonecrosis (NICO), a condition that lacks scientific recognition [3]. In 2002, Aetna issued a Clinical Policy Bulletin which explained why Aetna would not cover use of the device and other NICO-related procedures [4]. In 2004, Cavitat filed a lawsuit accusing Aetna of publishing injurious falsehoods, engaging in unlawful restraint of trade, and racketeering. These charges were unfounded. After the racketeering charge and nearly all of the others were dismissed, Aetna filed a counterclaim for malicious prosecution and other wrongdoing. Based on documents gathered during the discovery process, the counterclaim alleges:

In May, the University of Texas announced that since Bouquot became director of its surgical pathology laboratory, the number of specimens the laboratory received had more than tripled:

Aetna is seeking recovery of its legal costs plus punitive damages that could amount to millions of dollars. It is also safe to assume that Aetna will seek to recover the money it paid in response to the allegedly fraudulent claims.

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This article was posted on November 23, 2005.