After Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk settled claims that it marketed drugs using a "white coat" sales scam, global pharmaceutical competitor Eli Lilly is facing similar charges. A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Lilly ran a "multi-tiered kickback scheme" to boost sales of insulin drugs.
Research organization National Healthcare Analysis Group and 30 states allege in the lawsuit filed in June that Lilly violated the False Claims Act and federal Anti-Kickback Statute.
The suit claims that Eli Lilly, Healthstar Communications and VMS Biomarketing supplied free nursing services to convince physicians to prescribe Lilly's Humulin, Humalog and osteoporosis drug Forteo. The lawsuit also alleges that Covance and Express Scripts were part of the scheme; their role was to help prescribers of the Lilly medications get reimbursement.
"While purporting to provide independent medical advice and disease-awareness information, the nurse educators were in reality acting as undercover sales reps for Lilly, focused on the mission Lilly had retained them to accomplish," the suit states. The mission Lilly wanted them to carry out: refer Lilly products to physicians and patients.
Express Scripts said in a recent SEC filing that it believes it is "in substantial compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations in all material respects."
Earlier this year, Novo Nordisk settled a whistleblower suit alleging that the Danish company used diabetes educators to sell prescribers on the idea of using Novo's drugs. Novo allegedly offered education programs and materials worth thousands of dollars as inducement. The company denied the accusations.
If you have been accused of an Anti-Kickback violation, speak to a health care attorney who will protect your rights and interests at all times.