Serono, three others pay $44.3 million to settle kickback allegations

by Ben Vernia | May 4th, 2011

On May 4, the Department of Justice announced that Serono Laboratories, Inc., and three other companies have agreed to pay $44.3 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that they provided kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe Rebif. According to DOJ’s press release:

P harmaceutical manufacturers Serono Laboratories Inc., EMD Serono Inc., Merck Serono S.A, and Ares Trading S.A. have agreed to pay $44.3 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations in connection with the marketing of the drug Rebif, the Justice Department announced.

The settlement resolves allegations that Serono paid health care providers from the launch of Rebif in about January 2002 through December 2009, to induce them to promote or prescribe Rebif, a recombinant interferon injectable that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Serono is alleged to have made payments to providers for hundreds of speaker training meetings and programs, as well as payments for attending consultant, marketing and advisory board meetings, all at upscale resorts and other locations. Serono’s actions allegedly resulted in the submission of false claims to federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid for the payment of Rebif, i.e., claims that were tainted by kickbacks.

The case was apparently not the result of a qui tam, or whistleblower suit.

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