Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Forest Laboratories and Pharmaceuticals to Pay $38 million to Resolve Kickback Allegations for Payments to Physicians for Speaking Programs

The government has become far more aggressive in classifying payments to physicians by drug companies as "kickbacks" unless certain criteria are met. 

In a recent case, Forest Laboratories LLC, located in New York, New York, and its subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., agreed in December 2016 to pay $38 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by paying "kickbacks" through payments and meals for alleged sham speaking programs to induce physicians to prescribe the drugs Bystolic®, Savella®, and Namenda®.  

The civil settlement resolves a qui tam lawsuit filed by former Forest employee Kurt Kroening, in federal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that the federal government and some state governments joined. The allegations were that Forest violated the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits the payment of remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by federal health care programs, by providing payments and meals to certain physicians in connection with speaker programs about Bystolic®, Savella®, or Namenda® between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011.  

The United States contends that the payments and meals were intended as improper inducements because Forest provided these benefits even when the programs were cancelled (and Forest provided no evidence of a bona fide reason for the cancellation), when no licensed health care professionals attended the programs, when the same attendees had attended multiple programs over a short period of time, or when the meals associated with the programs exceeded Forest’s internal cost limitations. 

Physicians who receive payments or meals from drug companies for speaking need to ensure that they do the speaking, that the programs are current and occurred. In the Forest case, the physicians received payments even when the speaking programs were cancelled. It would also be good practice to notify patients in writing when prescribing medications for which payment has been received that they have received payments from the drug manufacturer. 

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Email: tgreen@greenassoc.com
Office: 213-233-2260


DISCLAIMER: Green & Associates' articles and blog postings are prepared as a service to the public and are not intended to grant rights or impose obligations. Nothing in this website should be construed as legal advice. Green & Associates' articles and blog postings may contain references or links to statutes, regulations, or other policy materials. The information provided is only intended to be a general summary. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. We encourage readers to review the specific statutes, regulations, and other interpretive materials for a full and accurate statement of their contents and contact their attorney for legal advice. The primary purpose of this website is not the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service and this website is not an advertisement or solicitation. Anyone viewing this web site in a state where the web site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state, should disregard this web site.

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to create, and does not create, a lawyer-client relationship with Green & Associates, Attorneys at Law. Sending an e-mail to Tracy Green does not contractually obligate them to represent you as your lawyer, or create any type of client relationship. No attorney-client relationship will be formed absent a written engagement or retainer letter agreement signed by both Green & Associates and client and which specifies the scope of the engagement.

Please note that e-mail transmission is not secure unless it is encrypted. E-mail messages sent to Ms. Green should not include confidential or sensitive information.