The state of California joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. filed by a former salesman for the company and a former professional basketball player who allege that the company used illegal kickbacks to induce physicians to prescribe drugs.
Late News: Calif. joins lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb
Michael Wilson, who worked as a Bristol-Myers salesman until 2004, and former NBA player Lucius Allen, who was hired as a “cardiac metabolic risk specialist” and remains in the company's employ on disability, according to the complaint, alleged that the drugmaker used illegal means to encourage the sales of drugs for which California insurers paid more than $3.5 billion between 1999 and 2004. Laura Hortas, a spokeswoman for Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in an e-mail that the company believes the lawsuit has no merit and the company will defend itself vigorously. She declined to comment specifically on whether the company denies the conduct alleged in the lawsuit, which was filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles and claims that Bristol-Myers Squibb sales staff routinely used sporting tickets, lavish meals, travel to luxury destinations and outright cash payments as means to induce physicians and pharmaceutical formulary committees to increase their volumes of certain prescriptions or switch to newly patented versions of drugs.
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