U.S. Attorney: Allergan Accountable in False-Claims Lawsuit
The U.S. Attorney’s office filed documents challenging Allergan’s efforts to suppress evidence that it submitted false claims related to its blockbuster ophthalmic drug Restasis.
The FDA approved Restasis (cyclosporine) in 2002 for the treatment of dry eye. Seven years later, in 2009, a whistleblower lawsuit initiated by two Philadelphia-area ophthalmologists, Herbert Neyvas and Anita Neyvas-Wallace, accused the drugmaker of violating anti-kickback laws by paying off eye doctors for making over-stated claims related to Restasis’ efficacy, leading to inflated sales of the drug.
During oral arguments in Neyvas v. Allergan Inc. on April 23, Allergan’s attorneys urged a federal judge in Pennsylvania to dismiss all accusations of false-claim statements against the company, saying Allergan should not be held accountable for the actions of pharmacists who acted independently in encouraging Restasis sales.
U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger responded that Allergan’s arguments contradict a well-documented Third Circuit precedent of holding pharma companies liable for kickback schemes that violate the anti-kickback statute.
A federal judge has yet to rule on the arguments. Allergan declined to comment on pending litigation. — Jessica Grinspan