Bristol-Myers Squibb settles whistleblower lawsuit for $30 million

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Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to pay $30 million to the California Department of Insurance to settle allegations the company engaged in marketing fraud and paid kickbacks to physicians.

Three former Bristol-Myers Squibb sales representatives filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the company paid kickbacks to increase the prescriptions of several prescription medications, including clopidogrel (Plavix) and pravastatin (Pravachol). Clopidogrel is a blood thinner, while pravastatin is a statin intended to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Former Bristol-Myers Squibb salespeople Mychal Wilson, Lucius Allen and Eve Allen said the misconduct occurred between 1997 and 2003. The company has denied wrongdoing.

Under the terms of the settlement, Bristol-Myers Squibb did not admit to any liability and continued to deny the allegations.

Wilson first filed a complaint in March 2007. Lucius Allen and Eve Allen joined Wilson’s complaint in July 2010. Lucius Allen played for 10 seasons in the National Basketball Association from 1969 through 1979.

They alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb provided physicians and their families with cash and gifts, including complimentary box suites at sporting events, enrollment in a Los Angeles Lakers basketball camp, pre-paid gold outings, tickets to Broadway plays and dinners, hotel rooms and concert tickets for large-volume prescribers.

In September 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon, a wholly owned subsidiary, agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for more than $515 million to resolve civil allegations of illegal drug marketing and pricing practices.