Biogen pays $900 million to settle drug allegations

A Biogen facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Biogen will pay $900 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company gave doctors kickbacks to encourage them to prescribe its drugs, the Justice Department announced Monday.

A former Biogen employee turned whistleblower, Michael Bawduniak, sued the pharmaceutical company in 2012 on behalf of the federal government under the False Complaints Act.

Bawduniak alleges Biogen paid doctors back in the form of speech fees, consultation fees and meals between 2009 and 2014 to encourage them to prescribe multiple sclerosis drugs.

According to the Department of Justice, the alleged kickbacks led to false claims against Medicare and Medicaid about prescriptions from Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera.

Biogen will pay more than $843 million to the federal government and $56 million to 15 states to settle the case. According to the Justice Department, Bawduniak will receive about $250 million in federal proceeds.

Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said: “The agreement announced today highlights the important role whistleblowers play in supplementing their use of the False Complaints Act. United States to combat fraud affecting federal health care programs.

Biogen, in a statement Monday, denied any wrongdoing in the incident. The company said it wants to settle the lawsuit to focus on other priorities.

“Biogen believes its intentions and conduct were always lawful and appropriate, and Biogen denies all allegations made in this case,” the company said. “The United States and the states did not intervene in the case and the settlement did not include any admission of liability by Biogen.”

Biogen revealed in its second-quarter report that it had reached an agreement in principle to pay $900 million to settle the lawsuit.

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