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Novartis pays $678 million to settle doctor bribe charges

Mark Shapland
·1-min read

Swiss drug giant Novartis has agreed to pay $678 million (£534 million) over claims it paid kickbacks to doctors who prescribed its drugs.

The US Department of Justice announced the settlement late last night and it is the company's third big deal with US authorities this year.

The US sued the drugmaker in 2013, after a former sales representative accused the company of using its speaker programs to bribe doctors to write prescriptions for its products.

"Novartis paid exorbitant speaker fees to doctors who gave no meaningful presentations, and provided expensive meals and alcohol to doctor attendees and their guests,” prosecutors said.

US Attorney Audrey Strauss called the incentives “nothing more than bribes.”

Most of the drugs prescribed by the doctors who received kickbacks have been used to treat high blood pressure and include Lotrel, Diovan, Exforge, Tekturna, Valturna and Tekamlo, according to the settlement.

The case had been set to go to trial last year before being delayed to allow settlement talks to play out.

Novartis has admitted and accepted responsibility for many of the allegations and agreed to scale back its speaker programs.

As part of the settlement, Novartis has entered into a “corporate integrity agreement” with the inspector general at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The five-year agreement requires Novartis to significantly curtail its paid speaker programme, restricting any events to virtual format only.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis chief executive, said “Today’s settlements are consistent with Novartis commitment to resolve and learn from legacy compliance matters.”

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