The pharmaceutical colossus Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is being accused of bribing doctors and pharmacists with cash kickbacks, gifts and even invitations to “happy hours” with the Los Angeles Lakers in an attempt to drive up sales figures.
However, these accusations are nothing new to the medical world and date back to March 2007 when Michael Wilson, a former Bristol-Myers employee, originally filed the lawsuit. It was not until recent activity that the state Department of Insurance intervened and made the case public. These bribes are only the latest accusations, on a list of many, that have prompted legal action against the fraudulent drug company.
In 2007, the federal government and a number of other states accused Bristol-Myers of developing and implementing a kickback scheme that intentionally defrauded both Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. As a result, Bristol-Myers was forced to pay $515 million as a settlement and enter into a “corporate integrity” agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The stipulations of the agreement ensured that Bristol-Myers would provide accurate prices for drugs covered by government insurance programs.
The most recent accusations aimed at the drug company focus on their interest in the private insurance sector. In a lawsuit that is being tagged “the largest health insurance fraud case ever pursued by a California state agency”, Bristol-Myers is being accused of offering bribes to those physicians who will write prescriptions featuring Plavix, Abilify and Avapro, their most popular drugs. A move that can potentially raise the cost of health insurance for those living in the state of California.
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