The U.S. Department of Justice announced in late October that Warner Chilcott – a drug manufacturer based in Rockaway, New Jersey – has been found guilty of massive Healthcare Fraud and will pay a $125,000,000 fine. It’s former President, W. Carl Reichel, was handcuffed and taken to jail in Boston, charged with Conspiracy in a widespread doctor kickback scheme.
Warner Chilcott, which has merged with Botox creator Allergan Plc, changed their “not guilty” plea to “guilty,” in the felony healthcare fraud case that included paying cash to unscrupulous physicians in return for prescribing their drugs instead of those made by competitors.
In the last few years pharmaceutical companies have paid $13,000,000,000 in fines because of fraudulent marketing practices, including the promotion of medicines for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the DOJ, at least four other people have either already pleaded guilty, or are facing trials, over the Warner Chilcott wealth-building scam.
The end of the case resolves charges that from 2009-2013, Warner Chilcott illegally marketed seven different drugs, including Atelvia to treat post-menopausal osteoporosis; Asacol to treat colitis, and Actonel.
Investigators learned that the pharmaceutical company was deeply involved in numerous illegal activities, primarily routinely making cash payments and offering expensive meals to persuade doctors to prescribe the drugs.
In the criminal case, Warner Chilcott will pay a $23,000,000 fine and admit to paying kickbacks, illegally inducing insurance companies to pay for Atelvia prescriptions, and making unproven advertising claims about Actonel.
The company will also pay $102,000,000 to the federal government and several states to recover falsified billings to be submitted to government health care programs.
The drug company’s former president Carl Reichel, age 57, of Chester New Jersey, pleaded not guilty in Boston before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal, and was released without bail, his lawyer Joe Savage said.
“The charges brought today by the U.S. Attorney’s office are false,” said Savage, a partner at Goodwin Procter. “For more than 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Carl Reichel worked hard and did the right thing, and these baseless claims can’t change that.”
Whistleblowers who sued Warner Chilcott under the federal False Claims Act in 2011 will receive $23,000,000 from the civil settlement.
In the world of the legal drug cartels, the revolving door of buying and selling, is dizzying. Consider this: Actavis bought Warner Chilcott exactly two years ago. They bought Allergan in March 2015 and assumed its name. And now that they have a brand new name, which will trigger far fewer internet criminal history searches, Allergan has announced that they plan to merge with drug giant Pfizer Inc.
Pfizer Inc? Really?
Is that the same Pfizer that was fined $2.3 billion – the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the U.S. up till then – for misbranding the painkiller Bextra with “the intent to defraud and mislead”? Is that the same drug cartel that promoted a drug to treat acute pain at dosages the FDA had already deemed dangerously high? Bextra was forced off the market in 2005 because it was unsafe. The FDA also reported that Pfizer also promoted three other drugs illegally: the antipsychotic Geodon, an antibiotic Zyvox, and the anti-epileptic drug Lyrica.
The fact that any of these drug cartels are still allowed to sit at the adult table and keep pooping in their stretchy pants is the very definition of insanity.
So we ask again: Who’s looking out for you?
Not the wild-eyed, profit-driven drug cartels.
Brighter minds look elsewhere for guidance.