Sales representatives of Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss drugmaker, were directed to visit psychiatrists and pain specialists and were rewarded through a system of quotas and bonuses with goals that could only be met by selling the drug for unapproved uses, according to the charging document. The company also allegedly paid physicians to speak to their peers about Trileptal's off-label uses.
Novartis also entered a $237.5 million civil settlement resolving False Claims Act allegations in a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging the company paid kickbacks to doctors to induce them to write prescriptions for Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge and Tekturna. The settlement stipulates that Novartis denies the allegations, except where the lawsuit lines up with the guilty plea in the related criminal case.
Andy Wyss, head of Novartis Pharma North America and president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., said in a news release that the company is pleased to resolve the matter and “will continue its commitment to high standards of ethical business conduct and regulatory compliance in the sale and marketing of our products.”