Novartis Sued for Kickbacks Involving Diabetes Drug

Pharmaceutical monster Novartis continues to stake its claim as the biggest pharma POS on the planet, as a federal judge has ordered the company to face a U.S. government lawsuit accusing them of paying kickbacks to doctors for prescribing their drugs, including a diabetes drug.

It’s easy for me to remember a general time when Novartis made a significant contribution to the public good: It was the mid-1990s, and a researcher in Oregon named Brian Druker was pressing the company to allot him what amounted to chump change to run a Phase I trial of one of the molecules they owned, but considered useless, in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. After much bitching and moaning, the company relented. The result is Gleevec, probably the greatest single breakthrough in cancer treatment of all time.

Since then – and tens of billions of dollars in revenue later – Novartis has been one me-too drug after another, showing no innovation, and caring about little else but profits.

This lawsuit, while still just allegations, just adds to it all. According to the lawsuit, Novartis paid kickbacks to doctors from 2002 to at least 2011 to get them to prescribe their drugs, including Starlix for people with type 2 diabetes.

For those prescribed Starlix in that time frame, you have to ask yourself: Was my doctor acting in my best interests when they prescribed this drug for me, or had Novartis recently taken them to a top restaurant and dropped almost $10,000 on the meal (or, as in other cases noted in the lawsuit, taken them to Hooters)?

You can check out the PDF of the lawsuit filed in 2013 here.

And ask your prescribing doctor if they have ever received "honoraria" from Novartis. Thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, you can check to see if they're telling you the truth, at least within a time frame, as CMS is now publishing the financial relationships between doctors and health care manufacturing companies.

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