A pharmaceutical company with its U.S. headquarters in Exton will pay $3.5 million to settle claims that it allegedly paid kickbacks to dermatologists in return for prescribing their drugs.
Almirall, formerly known as Aqua Pharmaceuticals, manufactures Monodox, Cordran and Acticlate. The company allegedly caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare by giving excessive speaker and advisory fees, gifts and meals, entertainment and gift cards to doctors who wrote prescriptions for their drugs.
The whistleblower, Nicole Newman, will keep about $735,000 of the settlement. Newman, a former sales representative for Aqua, had sued Almirall on behalf of the government for making false claims between 2012 and 2017. She was represented by attorneys Brian J. McCormick, Jr. of the Philadelphia firm Ross Feller Casey, LLP and Claudine Homolash.
The case later was taken up by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.
“Federal law is designed to ensure that doctors and other providers are not improperly influenced by pharmaceutical companies in deciding which drugs to prescribe,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. “We thank the whistleblower for coming forward and providing essential assistance to the government.”
Almirall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The federal investigation was conducted along with the California Department of Insurance, which did its own probe. The Department of Insurance separately agreed to an additional settlement of $3.1 million with Aqua to resolve similar allegations. Whistleblower Newman will receive over $1 million from that agreement.
The names of the doctors who received the kickbacks reportedly were included in the complaint, which remains under seal.