U.S. sues Novartis for paying docs kickbacks including dinner and drinks at Hooters

U.S. federal prosecutors have filed a lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals saying the company paid kickbacks to doctors to encourage prescriptions of its drugs. The federal suit stemming from whistleblower information, said that payments to doctors were disguised as honorariums for doctors to give educational presentations which were actually social outings including outings to Hooters and fishing trips. The Department of Justice says that Novartis has violated the anti-kickback statute by encouraging the docs to prescribe hypertension drugs Lotrel and Valtume and the diabetes drug Starlix. For those investments Medicare and other healthcare programs paid millions in kickback tainted claims. Œ Last week prosecutors in another suit against Novartis said the company paid kickbacks to pharmacies to switch kidney transplant patients from generic drugs to the company’s brand name drugs. Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers