China fines Medtronic $17 million on anti-monopoly charges

The Chinese unit of medical device maker Medtronic has been fined $17 million by anti-monopoly regulators in the latest effort by Beijing to force down what it sees as unreasonably high prices.

The Cabinet's planning agency said Wednesday the company, which supplies cardiovascular, restorative, and diabetes-related medical devices, improperly suppressed competition through agreements with distributors that set minimum prices.

Chinese regulators have imposed similar penalties on foreign automakers, milk suppliers and other companies. Setting minimum retail prices is a common tactic in other markets but lawyers say Beijing appears to see them as a barrier to competition.

Wednesday's government statement said minimum price agreements for medical devices hurt patients.