U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan today unsealed a complaint filed against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. by the U.S., 26 states and the District of Columbia alleging that the drugmaker had paid kickbacks to BioScrip Inc. to encourage patients to refill prescriptions.
Separately, federal and state officials announced that the Elmsford, New York-based specialty pharmacy agreed to pay $15 million to resolve the claims against it.
Federal and state officials alleged that government health programs Medicare and Medicaid paid tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements based on false claims for the drug.
“This arrangement between Novartis and BioScrip was dangerous for patients and is against the law,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “Our lawsuit against Novartis and our agreement with BioScrip send a clear message: Drug companies cannot pay pharmacies to promote drugs directly to patients.”
According to the complaint, Novartis paid kickbacks to BioScrip from February 2007 to May 2012 in the form of patient referrals and rebates. To hold up its end of the bargain, BioScrip made tens of thousands of calls to patients to try to convince them to keep taking the drug, federal and state officials alleged.
Julie Masow, a spokeswoman for Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis, said in an e-mailed statement that the company disputes the allegations in the complaint related to its interactions with BioScrip and intends to defend itself. (Más)