Novartis must face kickback lawsuit over “sham” speaker events

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 06 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6044
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation must face a US government lawsuit alleging that the company violated federal anti-kickback laws by sponsoring sham speaking events to boost sales of its drugs, a federal judge ruled on 30 September.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2011 by Oswald Bilotta, a former Novartis sales representative, under the False Claims Act—an 1863 law that authorizes private individuals to sue federal contractors on the government’s behalf to recover money lost through fraud. The individual who files the suit stands to share 15-25% of the settlement if the claim is won.

The federal government joined the suit in 2013, alleging that the company—a subsidiary of the Switzerland based Novartis AG—had violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute that makes it illegal to pay people to …

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