July 1, 2020
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces $678 Million Settlement Of Fraud Lawsuit Against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation For Operating Sham Speaker Programs Through Which It Paid Over $100 Million To Doctors To Unlawfully Induce Them To Prescribe No
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Gregory E. Demske, Chief Counsel to the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (“HHS-OIG”), Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of HHS-OIG’s New York Regional Office, Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Field Office of the U.S. Department of Defense - Office of Inspector General’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (“DCIS”), and Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office (“VA OIG”), announced today that the United States has settled a civil fraud lawsuit against NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION (“NOVARTIS”), part of Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis International AG, alleging that NOVARTIS violated the federal False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute by providing doctors with cash payments, recreational outings, lavish meals, and expensive alcohol to induce them to prescribe NOVARTIS cardiovascular and diabetes drugs reimbursed by federal healthcare programs.Specifically, the Government alleged that NOVARTIS organized tens of thousands of sham educational events at high-end restaurants and other venues, paid exorbitant speaker fees to doctors who gave no meaningful presentations, and provided expensive meals and alcohol to doctor attendees and their guests. When those doctors then prescribed NOVARTIS’s cardiovascular and diabetes drugs, federal healthcare programs paid hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursements for these tainted prescriptions. As part of the settlement, approved today by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe, NOVARTIS will pay the United States and various States a total of $678 million. NOVARTIS also made extensive factual admissions in the settlement and agreed to strict limitations on any future speaker programs, including reductions to the amount it may spend on such programs.