Written by Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday that Biogen Inc. has completed a $900 million settlement to settle a whistleblower lawsuit accusing the biotech company of bribing doctors to prescribe multiple sclerosis drugs.
The settlement resolves a long-running whistleblower lawsuit in federal court in Boston, which was followed by a former employee on behalf of the government. Biogen (NASDAQ:) revealed in July that it had reached a potential settlement, which was subject to government approval.
His attorney, Thomas Green, said that to pursue the case, the former employee, Michael Bodoniak, would receive $266.4 million from the settlement. That amount breaks previous records for US whistleblower awards, Green said.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the agreement. Biogen said in a statement that she “believes her intent and behavior were lawful and appropriate at all times.”
The lawsuit accused Biogen of directing millions of dollars in bribes to doctors for prescribing its MS drugs Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera from 2009 to 2014. These kickbacks came in the form of “mock” counseling deals and speaker programs as well as lavish dinners and entertainment. The lawsuit said.
The suit alleged that the scheme led to false payment claims being made to the state health care programs Medicare and Medicaid.
The case was brought in 2012 by Bawduniak under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to sue companies on behalf of the government to recover taxpayer money that was spent on fraudulent claims.
The Department of Justice may intervene in such cases and sue them itself after the investigation, although in 2015 it chose not to do so in the Podoniak case, leaving him to pursue the case himself.
Greene, his attorney, has described the settlement as the largest redemption in more than 150 years of false claims law cases to be secured by a whistleblower without government interference or involvement.