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US govt demands records of Novartis’ educational events in kickbacks suit

Published on 29/03/16 at 10:04am

Swiss pharma major Novartis (VTX: NOVN) has said the US lawsuit has exploded with the regulators demanding information for about 80,000 promotional events for doctors organised by the company’s sales force.

According to court filings the company organised dinners at expensive restaurants and other venues for doctors, calling them educational events. However, the company's drugs were not even discussed on these occasions. The government has now demanded that Novartis hand over documents for these events to ascertain if the meetings were actually educational.

The whistle-blower lawsuit has alleged Novartis provided illegal kickbacks to health-care providers through these educational programs.  

The US government filing says: “The requested documents go to the core issues in this case: whether educational materials were provided at these events; which doctors actually attended the events; how much money was spent on meals and honoraria; and indeed, most fundamentally, whether the underlying documentation shows that a particular event actually took place.”

According to the suit, the healthcare professionals attending the events upped the prescription of various cardiovascular drugs as well as the diabetes medication.

Last year Novartis agreed to pay $390 million to settle a kickbacks lawsuit. The suit claimed Novartis paid pharmacies to boost sales of some of its prescription drugs.

Anjali Shukla

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