Drugmakers warned about speaking deal kickbacks

The Office of Inspector General at HHS urged drugmakers and medical device companies to avoid soliciting and paying physicians to speak on their behalf in a Nov. 12 special fraud alert

The alert is the first one issued by the HHS OIG in six years, and it comes as several drugmakers have found themselves tied up in kickback-related litigation, including cases involving Purdue Pharma and Alexion.

Purdue Pharma's Oct. 21 $8.3 billion settlement involved allegations it paid physicians to encourage other healthcare professionals to prescribe more of its opioids. On July 2, Alexion agreed to pay more than $21 million to settle the Securities and Exchange Commission's allegations it used bribes to improve sales of its blood disease drug Soliris in Russia and Turkey.

"Based on our investigations and enforcement actions, this remuneration is often offered or paid to induce (or solicited or received in return for) ordering or prescribing items paid for by federal healthcare programs," the alert reads. "If the requisite intent is present, both the company and the [healthcare professionals] may be subject to criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement actions."

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