Pharmaceutical Giant Novartis To Pay $237.5 Million To Settle False Claims Act Lawsuits Relating To Off-Label Marketing and Kickbacks

On September 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached an agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation in which the company agreed to pay $237.5 million to settle four False Claims Act lawsuits alleging that Novartis engaged in an unlawful off-label marketing scheme in connection with its anti-epileptic drug Trileptal and wrongfully paid kickbacks to physicians to encourage them to prescribe Trileptal, as well as other Novartis drugs.  The lawsuits asserted that Novartis knowingly promoted the sale of Trileptal for bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain—uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  The lawsuits also alleged that Novartis paid illegal kickbacks to physicians via speaker programs, advisory boards, entertainment, travel, and meals to induce them to prescribe Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge, and Tekturna.

The qui tam lawsuits were filed by former Novartis employees.  As a reward for disclosing Novartis’s unlawful activity to the Government, the whistleblowers will share $25,675,035 of the federal recovery.

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