NEW YORK — Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will reportedly pay $390 million to the federal government and 40-plus states to settle charges of paying specialty pharmacies illegal kickbacks.

Reuters reported the settlement in late November.

The illegal kickbacks were paid — between 2007 and 2012 — to pressure specialty pharmacies into recommending prescriptions of their drugs to Medicaid and Medicare patients.

The case against Novartis — the manufacturer of the controversial drug, Exjade — began with a whistle-blower complaint from David Kester, a former sales manager who filed a complaint under the False Claims Act.

“I believe many of my customers, who were the physicians and nurses treating patients with life-threatening diseases, did not fully understand the relationships between the specialty pharmacies and Novartis,” Kester told Reuters in written responses to questions.

The U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York then pursued the case and discovered that allegations covered six drugs, including Exjade, an oral iron chelator developed to treat chronic iron overload due to multiple long-term blood transfusions.

The prosecutors claim that Novartis picked select specialty pharmacies to join a closed prescription distribution network. Those pharmacies would then be pressured to keep their patients on their prescriptions, downplaying any side effects in the process.

Contests were reportedly held in which Novartis kept “score cards” of which pharmacies kept patients on their drugs for the longest.

Pharmacies involved with Novartis have since paid $75 million to settle charges brought against them.

Our Exjade Lawyers Can Help

Our dangerous drug attorneys can help if you or someone you care about was injured during or after using Exjade. Lawsuits have been filed against the drug makers by both patients and their families seeking compensation for injuries caused by the dangerous drug. You may be entitled to a settlement.

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