Whistleblower goes it alone, obtains $900 million settlement with Biogen

by Ben Vernia | September 29th, 2022

On September 26, the Department of Justice announced that Biogen Inc. had agreed to pay a combined state/federal total of $900 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that the company had made improper payments to physicians. DOJ had declined to intervene in the case, and the whistleblower exercised his right to pursue the case on his own. According to DOJ’s press release:

Pharmaceutical company Biogen Inc. (Biogen), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay $900 million to resolve allegations that it caused the submission of false claims to Medicare and Medicaid by paying kickbacks to physicians to induce them to prescribe Biogen drugs.

The settlement announced today resolves a lawsuit filed and litigated by former Biogen employee Michael Bawduniak against Biogen under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which permit a private party (known as a relator) to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. The United States may intervene in the action or, as in this case, the relator may proceed with the lawsuit. 

In his lawsuit filed in the District of Massachusetts, Bawduniak alleged that Biogen paid kickbacks to physicians to induce them to prescribe the company’s multiple sclerosis drugs. According to the relator’s complaint, from Jan. 1, 2009, through March 18, 2014, Biogen offered and paid remuneration, including in the form of speaker honoraria, speaker training fees, consulting fees and meals, to health care professionals who spoke at or attended Biogen’s speaker programs, speaker training meetings or consultant programs to induce them to prescribe the drugs Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.

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DOJ announced that the whistleblower will receive nearly 30% of the federal portion of the massive settlement.

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