Bradley attorney Jon Ferry spoke to Pharmaceutical Technology about Biogen’s $900 million settlement among increased government attention on pharmaceutical fraud. This lawsuit originated in 2009 when a former Biogen employee filed a lawsuit stating that Biogen had violated the False Claims Act (FCA) and Anti-Kickback Statute by providing millions to healthcare administrators as a means to prescribe three of their multiple sclerosis drugs.
The U.S. government has recently prioritized focus on cases such as Biogen’s as a warning to the industry to remain in compliance with the law.
“I think that one of the government’s intended effects of pursuing these cases is deterrence and invoking future more compliant behavior from the industry,” said Ferry.
Ferry explained the legal ramifications of pharmaceutical agencies violating the FCA. “An entity that is found liable for a False Claims Act violation has to pay back to the government three times what it received, subject to the law, plus additional penalties which are very substantial as well,” stated Ferry.
The Anti-Kickback Statute is a criminal statute that can result in up to five years in prison and monetary penalties. “If you have a widespread anti-kickback violation, all the claims submitted are false and fraudulent, and the government wants all the money back from the act, including treble the damages amount,” explained Ferry.
The result of this settlement led Ferry to predict that Biogen may begin “revising their practices, so that they could not be accused of this in the future, to try and stay ahead of a potential problem.”
Ferry continued, adding that, “The size of the settlement is expected to spur the pharmaceutical space into some action. When you see a number come out that was involved in a settlement, people notice it and it brings forth the risks involved in these [speaker] programs.”
The original article, “Biogen’s $900 Million Settlement Signal Scrutiny on Speaker Fees,” appeared in Pharmaceutical Technology on October 5, 2022.