Judge rules Novartis must face Anti-Kickback lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled that Novartis — a pharmaceutical company — must face a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, which alleges the company paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to physicians to induce them to prescribe its drugs, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

In its lawsuit, the government claims Novartis organized "sham" speaker events, where there was very little or no discussion of its drugs. Some of the speaker events were held at expensive restaurants and fishing venues.

The lawsuit provided several examples of the speaker events in question, including a dinner at Smith & Wollensky in Washington, D.C. in 2005, where the company spent $672 on each of the three people in attendance, according to the report.

As a result of the kickbacks, the lawsuit alleged, Medicare and Medicaid paid millions of dollars in reimbursements based on fraudulent insurance claims that were submitted for various Novartis drugs between 2002 and 2011.

Novartis has denied the allegations contained in the government's lawsuit and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which a federal judge denied.

The lawsuit was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provision of the False Claims Act by a former Novartis sales representative, according to the report.

More articles on the False Claims Act:

CVS' Caremark unit to pay $6M to settle FCA allegations 
Shire Pharmaceuticals to pay $56.6M to resolve FCA allegations over Adderall marketing 
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