A doctor wrote over 9,000 prescriptions for Novartis medications and was rewarded with a fee of $ 320,000.
Pharmaceuticals manufacturer Novartis AG will pay more than $ 729 million to pay federal fees that doctors paid to prescribe its medicines.
Of the total billing amount, Novartis will pay $ 678 million to resolve claims that it has hosted fraudulent educational events. During such events, the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company would provide doctors with lavish gifts, expensive dinners, and exorbitant speaker fees.
Reuters reports that Novartis will also pay slightly more than $ 51 million to carry out a Medicare scam in which the company has channeled money through nonprofits to cover the cost of patient co-payments.
The remaining amount, according to Reuters, excludes losses of nearly $ 40 million that result from Novartis' violation of an anti-kickback law. A further $ 48.2 million will be paid for individual countries.
“For more than a decade, Novartis has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on so-called speaker programs, including speaking fees, exorbitant meals, and top-quality alcohol that were nothing more than bribes, to get doctors across the country to prescribe Novartis® medication. Said Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for Manhattan.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Novartis educational events were also an ethical dilemma for the physicians present.
Image via Pixnio.com/user:PPD. (CCA-BY-0.0). Public domain.
A doctor who attended such events wrote over 8,000 Novartis prescriptions, according to The New York Times. In return, the doctor, who was not named by Novartis or the Department of Justice, received an estimated $ 320,000 in "fees".
Other doctors with prescriptions between 3,600 and over 9,000 also received six-figure compensation in excess of $ 200,000.
William F. Sweeney Jr., deputy director of the FBI's New York office, said Novartis used its events to increase its profit margins and gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.
"In addition to incentivizing physicians to host these lectures, Novartis has bribed doctors to write more prescriptions for the company's medications to give Novartis an edge over competitors in their field," said Sweeney Jr. in one Explanation. “Greed has replaced the responsibility that the public expects from medical professionals, not to mention the possibility of eroding confidence in the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. This behavior was reprehensible and dishonest. "
While most citizens initially didn't have much faith in the pharmaceutical industry, Strauss also emphasized the ethical dilemma that Novartis forced through aggressive and often generous campaigns against doctors.
"These cash payments and other wasteful treats affect doctors' duty to choose the best treatment for their patients and increase drug costs for everyone," said Strauss.
According to Reuters, Novartis ran speaker programs and promotions for almost a decade between 2002 and 2011, while the company's Medicare program ran from 2010 to 2014.
The Department of Justice estimates that the federal government has lost hundreds of dollars to Novartis from reimbursement of prescription payments.
In a statement, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said the company has since reformed.
"Today’s comparisons are in line with Novartis’s commitment to resolving and learning from existing compliance issues," said Narasimhan.
"Today we are a different company with new leadership, a stronger culture and a greater commitment to ethics that is at the heart of our company," said Narasimhan. “It was clear to me that I never want us to achieve commercial success at the expense of our values. Our values must always come first and are the basis for everything we do. ”
It paid kickbacks to doctors. Novartis is now paying a $ 678 million settlement.
Novartis will pay $ 729 million to settle the US setback fee
Novartis reaches $ 678 million in US fraud lawsuit