Basel, March 23, 2021 - On Saturday, March 6, 2021, SonntagsBlick published an interview with Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt, Ph.D., in connection with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the company. In the interview, Mr. Reinhardt was asked about the company’s $678 million settlement last year with the United States Government, which resolved claims that during the time period from 2002 to 2011, Novartis used certain promotional programs as a way improperly to induce doctors to prescribe Novartis products, in violation of US anti-kickback law.
In responding to this question, Mr. Reinhardt described the programs as scientific events and stated that the Company may have been too generous on occasion to the doctors in attendance. These comments were inaccurate and inconsistent with the admissions of conduct that Novartis made in its settlement agreement with the US Government. In particular, in paragraph 2(v) of that agreement Novartis admitted that its sales representatives "selected high-prescribing doctors to become speakers and intended the honoraria paid to induce these doctors to continue to write or to write more Novartis products." Paragraphs 2(x), 2(ee) and 2(gg) similarly contain admissions that sales representatives hosted speaker programs or roundtables at expensive restaurants, intending to induce the doctors in attendance to write more Novartis prescriptions and that at many of these events there was "little to no medical discussion." A copy of the settlement agreement, at which Novartis’ complete admissions of conduct are listed in paragraph 2, can be found at the attached link.
Mr. Reinhardt’s statements were not intended to minimize or dispute Novartis’ admissions of conduct in the Settlement. Instead, as Mr. Reinhardt notes in the article, the conduct and practices at issue "are history and will not be repeated," and Novartis reiterates fully the acknowledgements it made in its agreement.