Uncle Sam says Novartis should pay $3.35 BILLION for kickback schemes

The United States Department of Justice says that Novartis should pay $3.35 BILLION in damages for using kickbacks to boost sales of two of its drugs which resulted in Medicare and Medicaid to overpay for those medications, Myfortic for kidney transplants and Exjade to reduce excess iron in patients who have blood transfusions.

The Government says Novartis violated the False Claims Act by using different plans including rebates to get specialty pharmacies to boost prescriptions for the two drugs.

The DOJ is seeking $1.52 BILLION in damages, triple the amount of money that Medicare and Medicaid paid for the drugs resulting from the kickbacks. It is also seeking $1.83 BILLION in fines for each of the 166,000 claims it says were fraudulent.

The whistleblower in this case is David Kester, a former Novartis sales manager and it was filed in 2011. Apparently there is a second whistleblower who also worked at Novartis but that person has not been named yet.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.