Biogen pays $900 million to settle medical bribery allegations

BOSTON — Biogen has agreed to pay $900 million to settle allegations that it broke federal law by paying bribes to doctors to persuade them to prescribe its multiple sclerosis drugs, federal prosecutors said.

The settlement announced Monday resolves a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former Biogen employee Michael Bawduniak, according to a statement from Massachusetts US Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office.

Under the terms of the settlement, Biogen will pay more than $843 million to the federal government and more than $56 million to 15 states for overbilling the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Bawduniak will receive a portion of the federal recovery.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company said in a statement that it reached an agreement so it could focus on “our patients and strategic priorities” and said the agreement does not include an admission of liability.

“Biogen believes that his intent and conduct were lawful and appropriate at all times and Biogen denies all allegations raised in this case,” the company statement said.

The lawsuit alleged that, from January 2009 through March 2014, Biogen paid doctors speaking and consulting fees and bought meals from them that were actually bribes to prescribe Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.

“We thank Mr. Bawduniak for uncovering this behavior and bringing it to light,” Rollins said. “This matter is an important example of the vital role whistleblowers and their attorneys can play in protecting our nation’s public health care programs.”

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