Raleigh, North Carolina-based specialty pharmacy Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which sells products used to treat various gastroenterology conditions, agreed to pay $54 million to settle charges it violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act by using its “speaker programs” as a mechanism to pay kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe Salix drugs and medical devices. Specifically, the government alleged Salix held sham speaker programs, frequently at high-end restaurants, where doctors were paid substantial honoraria purportedly to educate other doctors about a Salix product, but in reality spent little or no time discussing the product. The allegations originated in two whistleblower lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblowers will receive a yet-to-be-determined award from the proceeds of the government’s recovery. DOJ (SDNY)
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