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Biovail sentenced for paying prescribers

Biovail Pharmaceuticals has been fined $22.24m, after pleading guilty to conspiracy and kickback charges

Biovail Pharmaceuticals has been fined $22.24m, after pleading guilty to conspiracy and kickback charges. A US unit of the Canadian company, based in New Jersey, paid thousands of doctors and other prescribers up to $1,000 to induce them to prescribe and recommend the hypertension drug Cardizem LA (diltiazem hydrochloride).

Prescribers were paid $250 to enrol in the Proving Long Acting Through Experience (PLACE) programme and complete a two-page multiple-choice questionnaire. An additional $250 payment was made if they enrolled between one and five patients; $500 if they enrolled between six and 10 patients; and $750 if they enrolled between 11 and 15 patients.

The United States Attorney's Office in the district of Massachusetts ruled that the sums paid equated to more than a fair market value of the medical prescribers' time and that the PLACE programme was not designed in a way that would provide new or meaningful scientific data about whether Cardizem LA worked better than other available drugs. 

Biovail also agreed to pay $2.4m to resolve allegations that it caused false claims to be submitted to the United States.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

15th September 2009

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