Daiichi Sankyo to Pay Justice Department $39 Million Over Kickback Claims
Daiichi Sankyo will pay the federal government $39 million to resolve allegations it used lavish dinners and other kickbacks to persuade physicians to prescribe more of the company’s drugs.
A whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former Daiichi Sankyo saleswoman alleged the company paid for expensive meals and speaker program honoraria to physicians in exchange for prescribing Azor (olmesartan medoxomil, amlodipine), Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil), Tribenzor (olmesartan medoxomil, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide) and Welchol (colesevelam).
The U.S. Department of Justice said the alleged kickbacks went to doctors speaking in physician opinion and discussion programs and other forums from January 2004 to March 2011. The department didn’t reveal the amount of the alleged kickbacks.
The payments stood out from normal reimbursements to physicians for speaking at medical conferences, DOJ said. For example, meals at times exceeded $140 per person, which was the limit on payments that the company set for itself in its compliance program. In addition, the physicians who received honoraria sometimes didn’t speak at all, DOJ said.
In addition to the settlement, Daiichi Sankyo entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with HHS that requires the Japanese drugmaker to make substantial compliance reforms. The company said that it already implemented many requirements of the agreement and doesn’t believe the settlement will affect operations.
The settlement is the first False Claims Act case of the new year, and DOJ emphasized that such cases will remain a priority in 2015. In fiscal year 2014, DOJ collected $1.1 billion from Johnson & Johnson to settle claims the drugmaker improperly promoted off-label uses. — Robert King