Drug Company Novartis Sued by US Government

Drug Company Novartis Sued by US Government post image

If you had any question about the underhanded strategies and motivations of drug companies, look no further. Novartis, a billion dollar drug Swiss company is being sued by the US government for paying millions in kickbacks to doctors for prescribing their drugs.

Accepted Industry Practice

For the past decade this company has lavished doctors with exorbitant speakers fees and extravagant meals in order to induce them to prescribe their drugs, in the guise of educational programs and accepted industry practice.

This involves Medicare and Medicaid payments of millions of dollars in kickback-tainted claims for commonly used drugs for hypertension and diabetes.

Is there any motivation here for doctors to talk to their patients about dietary changes when it is so easy to add to their income in this way?

In January of 2011, a former employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. The US government has now joined this lawsuit because of the impact this has on Medicare and Medicaid, two government run programs.

Beyond Commonly Used Drugs

The company is also accused of inducing pharmacies to switch thousands of kidney transplant patients to its immunosuppressant drug Myfortic in exchange for kickbacks disguised as rebates and discounts.

Novartis spokesperson, Julie Masow said the company disputes the claims in both lawsuits. She also said physician speaker programs are an accepted and customary practice in the industry.

Oh, so, paying doctors excessive fees to speak is usual and customary?

Providing elaborate and expensive dinners to doctors and their staff is usual and customary?

Does that make it OK?

Really Expensive Meals

The complaint alleges use of improper programs, including seven at Hooters restaurants that Novartis sales representatives attended. I guess none of the doctors invited were women…

Additionally, there were dinners at high-end Chicago restaurants such as Japonais and L20, a $2,016 dinner for three at Smith & Wollensky in Washington, D.C. and a $9,750 dinner for three at Nobu in Dallas in December 2005.

I mean, really… think of all the grassfed beef that would buy.

No Wonder Doctors are Not Interested in Diet

Not only are medical doctors not taught anything about nutrition in medical schools, they are clearly steered into writing prescriptions in the 5 minutes they allow with a patient.

What with managed care and the limitations put on doctors by insurance companies (which I sympathize with), the income of a doctor has gone down dramatically.

I don’t know who to blame. The whole system stinks.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!


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Leave a Comment

  • Carlos May 2, 2013, 11:28 pm

    I agree the whole system does blow. I don’t really blame the doctors cause to me they are just a pawn and sometimes they do care for people on personal level but they can’t make money if they don’t give out prescriptions. It’s really sad and it keeps people sick. I hope someday there will be more natural doctors and less pharma pseudo doctors.

  • Susan Weinberg May 3, 2013, 9:09 am

    Finally! The US government takes a stand on the side of the patient (consumer) instead of the medical establishment here in this country. The area I live in now has a university medical school and there are many hospitals here but I’ve never seen a a more pill pushing bunch of doctors in this area than I’ve ever seen elsewhere where they only had one hospital for the population base. And you’re correct. I bet none of the doctors that Novartis took to Hooters were women.

  • Kevin May 3, 2013, 3:14 pm

    The worst part? I thought it was customary practice to hand out money to doctors to prescribe specific meds. I always thought it should be illegal, so it’s nice to know it seems like it actually is, haha.

    I’m in Canada, but we have many of the same problems here (except our medicare is, for the most part, 100% subsidized, so this type of thing can have an even bigger effect here). Our doctors are underpaid compared the those in the US, so I wouldn’t even be surprised if it’s more common here.

    I think one of the main problems is the public’s perceptions of doctors. Because they are there to make us better when we are sick or injured, we presume they know everything about health. Obviously this isn’t true. I think if the general perception of the public changed, we’d all be much better off. We need to leave the medical side of things to doctors, and nutrition to nutritionists and dietitians.

  • MQ May 4, 2013, 9:04 pm

    It would help if people didn’t demand prescriptions. Some elders are on 6-12 and sometimes more different pills. When I was an EMT picking up a patient, there was usually a bagful of meds to take to the ER. I always wondered if the call had become necessary because of drug interactions.

    • Jill May 5, 2013, 10:45 am

      So true.Many people especially seniors are over medicated and can reduce some problems by simply using common sense and going off some of the unnecessary meds.