Former Amgen reps suing over tactics

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Two former Amgen sales reps are suing the company claiming the biotech firm pushed its sales force to search doctor's medical records for potential patients in an effort to boost sales of psoriasis treatment Enbrel.

The reps are both seeking lost pay, punitive damages and compensation totaling over $15 million. They allege they refused to follow orders of their superiors that, they said, violated federal patient privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In addition, the two sales reps said they were encouraged by their higher-ups to get insurance companies to approve reimbursement for Enbrel for patients with mild psoriasis, which can cost $20,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on severity of the condition.

Amgen said in a statement that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

“Our sales representatives follow compliance guidelines with absolute consistency,” an Amgen spokesman said in published reports.

HIPAA contains tough penalties for the disclosure of patient health information which include up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine if the information is transferred or used for commercial advantage. 
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