Sanford Heisler, LLP, a leading public interest law firm, today announced a $762 million global qui tam settlement with Amgen, Inc. and the United States Department of Justice. The settlement includes a $612 million civil settlement, a $14 million forfeiture and $136 million in criminal fines.
Headquartered in Thousand Oaks, CA, Amgen is a leading human therapeutics company in the biotechnology industry. The whistleblower ("relator") who was represented by Sanford Heisler, one of several relators who took part in the Government's investigation, had been employed as an oncology pharmaceutical sales representative for Amgen from 2002 through 2005. In 2007, the relator filed suit against her former employer in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under a federal whistleblower statute, the Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. 3729)..
Among other allegations, the complaint focused on Amgen's off-label marketing campaign and use of illegal kickbacks to promote the sale of Aranesp. The federal investigation confirmed that the company's tactics caused physicians to use the company's medications unnecessarily in circumstances where less costly medications or no medication would otherwise have been used. These and other fraudulent practices resulted in increased costs incurred by federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid for the treatment of patients improperly prescribed Aranesp and other Amgen medications.
The legal team at Sanford Heisler LLP included Lead Counsel David Sanford, Grant Morris and Stefanie Roemer in the firm's Washington, D.C. and Ross Brooks in the firm's New York offices.
"This settlement reflects several years of investigative effort, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Mr. Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler. "The DOJ and United States Attorney did an outstanding job of validating our allegations. We are pleased with this outcome and believe it will go a long way in preventing Amgen from continuing to violate federal regulations by promoting the off-label use of its powerful drugs and providing medical providers with kickbacks for inappropriately prescribing them. This settlement will also empower pharmaceutical sales representatives to blow the whistle on their employers' illegal actions."
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