Novartis finds itself in a tough spot after a federal judge refused the company’s request to toss a whistleblower lawsuit that could cost the Swiss-based pharma giant hundreds of millions of dollars.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in the Southern District of New York ruled against Novartis’ motion to dismiss, ruling that the U.S. had offered enough evidence of a “company-wide kickback scheme” to go to trial.
It’s a blow to Novartis, which has been fighting former sales representative Oswald Bilotta’s False Claims Act lawsuit for nearly a decade. Bilotta—and the U.S.—claim that Novartis organized nearly 80,000 “sham” speaking events and lavish meals to reward doctors who prescribed the company’s meds. The U.S. government and New York state joined the lawsuit in 2013, ratcheting up the pressure on Novartis. The government alleges that the scheme bilked Medicare out of millions.