Bristol-Myers Squibb to pay $515 million for doctor kickback scheme
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and its subsidiary, Apothecon, have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle a broad array of federal and state civil allegations involving their drug marketing and pricing practices, US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said today. This settlement resolves in whole or in part allegations made in healthcare qui tam actions brought under the False Claims Act.
The government alleged that from 2000 to mid-2003, BMS paid illegal remuneration to physicians and other healthcare providers to get them to promote BMS drugs. The payments were in the form of consulting fees and other programs, some of which involved travel to luxurious resorts. The prosecutors also said that from 2002 through 2005 BMC promoted the sale and use of Abilify, an atypical antipsychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychosis, both of which were “off-label” uses.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug to treat adult psychiatric disorders but not for use in children, teenagers, or for dementia-related illnesses. Doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs “off-label,” but companies are not allowed to promote drugs for those uses.
Sullivan said his office is not bringing criminal charges and that the company cooperated with the investigation, which was prompted by information from whistleblowers. In a statement posted on its website, the company said the settlement agreement will not affect the company’s ongoing business with any customers, including the government. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is pleased to have resolved these matters from the past and is proud of its commitment to conduct business with the highest standards of integrity in its mission to extend and enhance human life,” the company said.
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff