Most Americans assume that their doctor prescribes them a drug based on how effective it will be, and not because there is a financial incentive for them to do so. However, it seems that this may not always be the case. The FBI reported in January that Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in New Jersey had agreed to pay the US and state Medicaid programs, “$39 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by using lavish meals and speaker program honoraria as kickback vehicles to induce physicians to prescribe the drugs Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor, and Welchol.” To put it another way, Daiichi Sankyo was bribing doctors in order to get them to prescribe their drugs.
The FBI notes that these bribes go as far back as 2004, and took the form of, “honoraria payments, meals, and other remuneration to physicians who participated or supposedly participated” in speaking events. What is particularly disturbing is that it seems that Daiichi paid physicians for these speaking engagements even if, among other things, the physician spoke only to his or her own staff in their own office. Physicians also received payment even if they did not even speak at the engagement because it was cancelled prior to the event.
The Inspector General for the US Department of Health and Human Services was particularly troubled by this series of events. IG Daniel R. Levinson said, “Manufacturers and physicians who engage in [these types of schemes] are cheating Medicare and Medicaid out of millions of dollars and threatening programs upon which many elderly and disabled Americans rely.” Presumably physicians could have prescribed patients an alternative drug that would have been more affordable and equally as effective, but instead prescribed Daiichi’s drugs as a favor for the kickbacks.
Consumers should be aware that these types of schemes take place, and should always be prepared to questions their doctors about prescriptions. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, a branch of the Federal Government designed to protect consumers from this type of fraud, assures wary citizens saying, “DCIS will continue to aggressively pursue allegations of fraud and corruption harmful to US taxpayers and to the Department.”
As an update to the information in the FBI report, it seems that Indiana has directly been affected by the settlement. Howey Politics Indiana reports, “The Indiana Medicaid program will be repaid more than $126,000 by pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo Inc. as a settlement…”
It can be difficult to accept that doctors, whose mission it is to heal people, could be a part of these money making schemes. Unfortunately it does occur. In order to protect yourself, don’t ever be afraid to get a second opinion, and always do your own research regarding your health. In the event that you or a loved one was injured after using Benicar please contact an attorney at Hensley Legal Group. Our attorneys have the experience you deserve, and are here for you to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us anytime at 1-888-505-8232 to speak with someone about your case. You can also contact us via the web. Fill out the ‘Get Help Now’ box and someone from our office will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your options.