U.S. Sues Novartis for pharmacy kickbacks

The Department of Justice has filed a case against Pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis, asserting that it provided illegal kickbacks to pharmacies in the form of discounts and rebates to promote its drug Myfortic. This, says the feds, lures the pharmacists to become salespeople for its drugs and that is illegal. The numbers are not minor. In one case, Novartis directed more than $650,000 in kickbacks to Bryant’s Pharmacies in Batesvill Ark. which submitted 8,300 Myfortic claims to Medicare Part B alone, receiving more than $3.2 million in reimbursement. The lawsuit mentions an internal memorandum by a Novartis account manager which said that Bryant’s drove its annual Myfortic sales to more than $1 million a year from $100,000 and when the generic version of CellCept, a competitor dryg, arrived in 2009, the pharmacy argued to doctors and patients that they should stay with Myfortic. The government’s suit also says that Medicare and Medicaid paid tens of millions of dollars in claims for Myfortic that were “tainted” by the kickbacks. Myfortic is one of Novartis’s top 20 drugs and global sales in 2012 were $579 million. Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers