Novo Nordisk has settled eight whistleblower lawsuits involving Victoza, its top selling product. In agreeing to pay a total of $58.65 million the Danish drug manufacturer also resolved a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice. According to the allegations the company downplayed medical warnings, disguised salespeople as medical educators and paid kickbacks to doctors.
The U.S. claimed that Novo Nordisk had failed to provide a warning mandated by the FDA that it provide doctors with information about the risk of cancer. In 2011 the FDA had required Novo Nordisk to send “Dear Healthcare Professional” letters out to prescribing physicians. Although the agency had determined that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risk associated with the Victoza (thyroid cancer and pancreatitis), it should not be used as a first line of therapy in many cases. The lawsuits claimed that Victoza downplayed these risks. In addition to settling the whistleblower lawsuits Novo Nordisk will disgorge to the U.S. the $12.15 million that the Justice Department said it earned by violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act from 2010 to 2012. The whistleblower claims, settled for $46.5 million, claimed that Novo Nordisk violated U.S. false-claims laws, which prohibit drugmakers from collecting insurance reimbursements from federal programs on the basis of illegal marketing tactics.
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