Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bristol-Myers Squibb accused of bribing pharmacists and doctors with kickbacks

Over the weekend Bristol-Myers Squibb the maker of the "oral HCV NS5A inhibitor BMS-790052" now in clinical testing, made headlines when California regulators accused the drug company of bribing pharmacists and doctors with kickbacks, offering up cash, gifts and a good time with the Los Angeles Lakers if they used their products. In other words; Hey doc, use our drugs and we'll show ya a good time. The story was published online here yesterday.

A quote from the article "The case against the drug company was developed with the help of former Lakers player Lucius Allen and his wife, Eve, who worked for Bristol-Myers and provided access to the basketball team, according to a lawsuit made public Friday. Doctors and family members were invited to Lakers Dream Camps arranged by the company, the lawsuit said. Doctors also were treated to tickets and luxury suites for Lakers games, and received pointers, balls and autographs from some of the team's most famous players, the suit alleges.New York-based Bristol-Myers vowed to fight the case. "Bristol-Myers Squibb believes this lawsuit has no merit and the company will defend itself vigorously," it said in a statement."

Here's the story from Reuters

California joins Bristol Myers kickbacks lawsuit

Reuters) - California's insurance regulator has thrown its weight behind a lawsuit accusing Bristol Myers Squibb Co of dishing out kickbacks to doctors who prescribe its drugs.
The whistleblower lawsuit, brought by former employees of the pharmaceutical giant and previously under seal, accuses Bristol Myers Squibb of resorting to bribes to try to ramp up sales in the country's wealthiest state.
"Bristol-Myers Squibb believes this lawsuit has no merit and the company will defend itself vigorously," company spokeswoman Laura Hortas said.
The California Department of Insurance, intervening in the case, says it will seek hefty penalties for the damage done to a private health insurance sector that ultimately paid for the drugs.
The agency will pursue monetary penalties and the disgorgement of millions of dollars in "unlawful profits" made as a result of kickbacks, plus treble damages, it said in a statement.
"This sort of fraud has long plagued our health insurance system, leading to billions of dollars annually in added health care costs nationally," Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement.
According to the Department of Insurance, the lawsuit brought by two former employees alleges that Bristol Myers Squibb instructed salespeople to court doctors with sports tickets, fancy meals, all-expense-paid trips and gifts.
Pharmaceutical firms are grappling with higher costs from U.S. healthcare reform as well as pressure from governments and insurers to curb prices.
In January, Bristol-Myers Squibb reported a disappointing quarterly profit and forecast roughly flat earnings this year instead of the 3 percent growth Wall Street had expected.
The whistleblower case in Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles is The People of the State of California et al v. Bristol Myers Squibb Inc. et al, BC 367873.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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