US government sues Novartis for health care fraud
New York: The US Government has sued Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp, claiming it gave kickbacks to pharmacies to switch kidney transplant patients from competitors’ drugs to its own.
The civil health care fraud lawsuit in US District Court in Manhattan seeks unspecified damages and civil penalties for a scheme that the government said has been carried out since 2005. US Attorney Preet Bharara said yesterday that the company used the “lure of kickbacks disguised as rebates” to turn 20 or more pharmacies into a sales force for its drug, Myfortic.
He said the company’s actions caused the public to pay tens of millions of dollars for kickback—tainted drugs dispensed by pharmacists who had buddied up to Novartis. Bharara said Novartis is a repeat offender, having settled fraud charges based on kickbacks less than three years ago. Novartis said in a statement that it disputes the claims and will defend itself.
It said the investigation into the company’s interactions with specialty pharmacies related to the handling of Myfortic had been previously disclosed.