January 12, 2015 — Daiichi Sankyo, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, has agreed to pay a $39 million settlement to the federal government to resolve allegations of illegally marketing drugs like Benicar by paying kickbacks to prescribing physicians.
The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act by a whistleblower, Kathy Fragoules, a former sales representative for Daiichi Sankyo. She will receive $6.1 million of the settlement before legal fees.
According to the Justice Department, Daiichi Sankyo paid kickbacks in the form of “speaking fees” between January 2004 and February 2011. In some cases, doctors took turns speaking on the same subject, or gave speeches to an audience consisting of their own staff or spouses. The “lavish” dinners also exceeded Daiichi Sankyo’s internal limit of $140 per person.
The kickbacks were paid to doctors who prescribed the blood-pressure drugs Benicar, Tribenzor, and Azor, which all contain olmesartan. Kickbacks were also paid for Welchol, a cholesterol-lowering medication.
As part of the settlement, Daiichi Sankyo must also take steps to prevent illegal marketing practices in the future by implementing a corporate integrity program.
In recent years, the Justice Department has cracked down on pharmaceutical companies for using illegal marketing tactics to promote their drugs. Paying kickbacks is a conflict of interest that can compromise a doctor’s medical judgement.
Benicar, Azor, and Tribenzor have been linked to a very serious side effect known as sprue-like enteropathy. According to an FDA Safety Communication from July 2013, enteropathy can cause chronic diarrhea, life-threatening weight-loss, malnutrition, dehydration, and permanent intestinal damage.
Do I have a Benicar Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Benicar induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with sprue-like enteropathy, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Drug Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Attention Lawyers: We consider a referral from another law firm to be one of the greatest compliments. If your firm is interested in referring us a case or for us to send you a list of previous award judgments and/or average referral fees, please visit the Lawyer Referral section of our website.