A whistleblower lawsuit filed by two Philadelphia ophthalmologists against multinational drug corporation Allergan has been settled in court, with the defendant agreeing to pay more than $13 million.
The settlement resolves allegations that Allergan, which is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, and Parsippany, New Jersey, illegally promoted its Restasis eye drug and other eye drugs for off-label purposes and provided kickbacks to physicians for writing more prescriptions for the drugs.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the lawsuit was brought by Herbert J. Nevyas and Anita Nevyas-Wallace, a father and daughter team of ophthalmologists. The pair filed the suit under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, alleging that Allergan offered doctors business advisory services, human resources assistance, continuing education, and membership in its “Allergan Access” program to induce them to write more prescriptions for Restasis, Acular AS, and other eye drugs.
FiercePharma reports that the Dr. Nevyas and Dr. Nevyas-Wallace “attended an Allergan ‘Dry Eye Dinner’ in 2009, where a senior business advisor for the pharma company told 16 to 20 eye care professionals that aggressively treating dry eye patients would result in significant increases in annual revenues for their practices.”
Allergan also pushed eye doctors to market their practices as a “Dry Eye Center of Excellence” with the help of the company, the lawsuit claimed. Allergan regularly provided doctors with dinners and payments for meeting attendance, the lawsuit alleged.
Under the terms of the False Claims Act, the Nevyas will receive up to 30 percent of the $13 million recovery as a whistleblower award. The bulk of the recovery will go to the U.S. and 19 state Medicaid programs.
Allergan made headlines in 2010 when it agreed to pay the U.S. government $600 million for its criminal and civil liabilities stemming from its unlawful promotion of its Botox Therapeutic injection for uses not approved as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.