MILWAUKEE (Legal Newsline) — The
U.S. Department of Justice announced Dec. 15 that Forest Laboratories LLC and
subsidiary Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc. have agreed to a $38 million settlement that
resolves allegations of False Claims Act violations.
The defendants allegedly
paid kickbacks to induce physicians to prescribe their drugs – Bystolic,
Savella and Namenda.
“Kickback schemes undermine the integrity of medical decisions and
increase the costs of health care for everyone,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general
Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
“Such schemes are particularly of concern when they are designed to
influence drug prescriptions. The Department of Justice will vigorously
pursue companies that subvert the law at the public’s expense.”
The Anti-Kickback Statute of
the False Claims Act bars the payment of remuneration to induce referrals of
items and services covered by federal health care programs. From Jan. 1, 2008, until Dec. 31, 2011, Forest purportedly violated this statute by providing
payments and meals to certain physicians so that these physicians would
prescribe Bystolic, Savella and Namenda to patients.
“We are committed to protecting federally funded healthcare programs
from fraud, and this settlement reflects that commitment,” said U.S. attorney
Gregory J. Haanstad for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. “We are particularly
concerned with ensuring that drugs are prescribed based on patients’ needs and not on the
personal financial interests of drug manufacturers or prescribing physicians.”