29 Apr 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: The US government has filed another case against Novartis Pharmaceuticals, this time in the US District Court in Manhattan, alleging that the pharma giant has been paying kickbacks for a decade to doctors in order to steer patients toward its drugs. The US government had on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, sued Novartis for paying kickbacks to pharmacies to switch kidney transplant patients from competitors' drugs to its own. The government is seeking unspecified damages and civil penalties.
The government accused that during 2001-11, the firm was using multimillion-dollar incentive programs to target doctors, who were willing to accept illegal kickbacks and urge patients to use the company's drugs.
Dr Andre Wyss, president, Novartis, said in a statement that, "NPC invests significant time and resources to help ensure we conduct our business in an ethical and responsible manner. We are committed to doing it right."
The various alleged incentive that were given to doctors, included fishing outings, trips to Hooters (known for its scantily clad waitresses), expensive dinners at high-end restaurants, and payments for purported speaker programs that either did not occur at all or that had few or no attendees.
Novartis said that, "Discounts and rebates by pharmaceutical companies are a customary, appropriate and legal practice as recognized by the government itself. Physician speaker programs are an accepted and customary practice in the industry. These are promotional programs designed to inform physicians about the appropriate use of our medicines."