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Bayer Corp. to pay $40M to resolve alleged use of kickbacks, false statements relating to three drugs

NEW JERSEY – Bayer Corp., an Indiana corporation and manufacturer of pharmaceutical products, and its related entities have agreed to pay $40 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act in connection with the drugs Trasylol, Avelox, and Baycol.

The settlement announced Friday arose from two “whistleblower” lawsuits filed and pursued by a former employee of Bayer who worked in its marketing department.

In a lawsuit filed in the District of New Jersey, the employee, Laurie Simpson, alleged that Bayer paid kickbacks to hospitals and physicians to induce them to utilize the drugs Trasylol and Avelox, and also marketed these drugs for off-label uses that were not reasonable and necessary.

Simpson further alleged that Bayer downplayed the safety risks of Trasylol. The lawsuit alleged that as a result of this conduct Bayer caused the submission of false claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and violated the laws of 20 states and the District of Columbia.  Trasylol is a drug used to control bleeding in certain heart surgeries. Avelox is an antibiotic approved to treat certain strains of bacteria.

Simpson filed a second lawsuit relating to Bayer’s statin drug, Baycol, which was later transferred to the District of Minnesota. That lawsuit alleged that Bayer knew about, but downplayed, Baycol’s risks of causing a serious syndrome that results from the death of muscle fibers and the release of their contents into the bloodstream. The lawsuit further alleged that Bayer misrepresented the efficacy of Baycol when compared to other statins and fraudulently induced the Defense Logistics Agency to renew certain contracts relating to Baycol. Subsequently, Trasylol and Baycol were withdrawn from the market for safety reasons.

“As alleged in the complaints, Bayer – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world – engaged in a series of unlawful acts, including paying kickbacks to doctors and hospitals, marketing them off-label, and downplaying their safety risks,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, District of New Jersey, said. “This resolution should send a message to the pharmaceutical industry that such conduct undermines the integrity of federal health care programs and jeopardizes patient safety. This settlement reflects the importance of the whistleblower’s role in litigating False Claims Act actions on behalf of the United States, and we thank Ms. Simpson and her counsel for stepping forward and pursuing this case to conclusion.”

“Ms. Simpson diligently pursued this matter for almost two decades,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Today’s recovery highlights the critical role that whistleblowers play in the effective use of the False Claims Act to combat fraud in federal healthcare programs.”

“We recognize Ms. Simpson for her perseverance with this matter,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger, District of Minnesota, said. “We are pleased we were able to work with the parties to facilitate this resolution and help bring this longstanding matter to a close.”

“Bayer has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, select states and relator to resolve False Claims Act (FCA) allegations primarily related to the marketing, sales and billing for three prescription medicines, conduct that dates back more than fifteen years. The settlement of these cases, which does not include any admission of wrongdoing, reflects a business decision by the company that resolution was preferable to continuing already protracted litigation under a statute that is inefficient and in need of reform.  Significantly, the federal government never chose to intervene in these two FCA cases, and now as a result of the settlement, they will be dismissed,” the company said.

Under the terms of the settlement, Bayer will pay $38.9 million to the United States and $1.14 million to the 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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