Major pharm co. and its subsidiary settle fraud case

BOSTON Bristol-Myers Squibb and one of its subsidiaries have to resolve civil suits for their alleged fraudulent drug marketing and pricing schemes, the Boston Globe reported Saturday.

The pharmaceutical company and its subsidiary Apothecon, the settlement has indicated, convinced various physicians and health care providers to recommend their drugs to patients. If they complied, they received several forms of payment, including luxury resort vacations. The agreement requires the two companies to pay the government a sum of upward $515 million.

“Patients are entitled to unbiased decision-making from their physicians and should not have to worry that financial inducements or lavish entertainment have influenced their physicians’ prescribing choices,” Sullivan said.

According to the prosecution, Bristol-Myers Squibb promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychosis. Although the FDA has approved Abilify to treat adult schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it was not to be used the way it was marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The FDA has required that the package for Abilify carry a “black box” warning distinctively pertaining the use for treatment of dementia-related psychosis only.

Although the settlement was not finalized until the past few days, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a tenet agreement this past December.

The company said in its annual report to the Securities Exchange Commission in February that it had reached an agreement in principle for a settlement of $499 million. The remaining upward $16 million covers interest fees.