For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 27, 2010

Idaho Recovers $350,000 in Second Medicaid Fraud Settlement with Novartis

(Boise) – Idaho has received $350,045.89 as part of a settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. Wasden’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit joined with other states and the federal government in the settlement.

The settlement resolved allegations that Novartis improperly promoted Trileptal and engaged in unlawful kickback schemes to induce physicians to prescribe Trileptal, Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge and Tekturna. Trileptal is an anti-epileptic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of partial seizures in patients who have epilepsy.

The settlement resolved a government investigation into promotional activities by Novartis, which were directed at psychiatrists and other health care professionals, to induce physicians to prescribe Trileptal for uses not approved by the FDA, such as the treatment of bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain. Novartis also offered and paid illegal remuneration to health care professionals to induce them to promote and prescribe Trileptal.

The settlement also resolved allegations that from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2009, Novartis provided illegal remuneration, through mechanisms such as payments for speaker programs, advisory boards and gifts, including entertainment, travel and meals, to health care professionals to induce them to promote and prescribe the drugs Diovan, Zelnorm, Sandostatin, Exforge, and Tekturna.

Idaho Medicaid will receive $118,661.07 in restitution from the settlement. $231,384.82 in other recoveries to comply with state law will be deposited into the state’s general fund for appropriation by the legislature.

In October, Idaho received $985,105 from a separate settlement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc., resolving allegations that the company promoted the use of tobramycin, a cystic fibrosis drug, which is marketed under the trade name TOBI®, for uses not approved by the Food & Drug Administration.

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