Biogen, a Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company, will pay $900 million to settle allegations that it bribed doctors to prescribe the company’s multiple sclerosis drugs, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday evening.
The suit was initially brought by former employee, Michael Bawduniak, who alleged that the company offered or paid out kickbacks in the form of speaking fees and consultancy fees, which resulted in false claims being made to Medicaid and Medicare, according to the DOJ. The Civil War-era False Claims Act allows private individuals to file on behalf of the federal government in exchange for a portion of the recovered funds, netting Bawduniak approximately $250 million of the $843.8 million awarded to the federal government, while $56.2 million will be divided amongst 15 states, according to The Wall Street Journal. (RELATED: Big Pharma Is Paying Charities To Buy Drugs From Them, Report Finds)
“Biogen believes its intent and conduct was at all times lawful and appropriate and Biogen denies all allegations raised in this case,” the company said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. Biogen also noted that the U.S. government did not directly “intervene,” and that a settlement was not an admission of guilt.
Biogen Inc. Agrees to Pay $900 Million to Settle Allegations Related to Improper Physician Paymentshttps://t.co/LzULKxHSEQ
— DOJCivil (@DOJCivil) September 26, 2022
“[Bawduniak] diligently pursued this matter on behalf of the United States for over seven years,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in the DOJ’s press release. “The settlement announced today underscores the critical role that whistleblowers play in complementing the United States’ use of the False Claims Act to combat fraud affecting federal healthcare programs.”
The lawsuit’s conclusion comes as a recent study alleged that some pharmaceutical companies were avoiding anti-kickback provisions by donating to charities that would in-turn purchase their products. By donating to charities for diseases with limited treatment options, companies were allegedly able to induce purchases of their drugs, in violation of anti-kickback laws.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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