February 03, 2006
Novo Nordisk paid pharmacists to switch drugs: New York Times
Novo Nordisk sales reps paid at least one Rite Aid pharmacist to encourage switches from Lilly products or Novo’s own lower-priced treatments to higher-priced Novo versions in an effort to capture the lucrative insulin market, The New York Times reported. Citing documents and former and present company officials, the Times report indicated that sales reps also paid doctors’ assistants when the prescriptions were switched. Officials from Novo Nordisk and Rite Aid said their activities were intended primarily to educate patients or improve care and similar programs were common in the industry. Prosecutors are investigating possible criminal violations. On Dec. 20, Novo received a subpoena from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for documents relating to its marketing practices. Novo said it believes the investigation is “limited to its insulin products.” Federal anti-kickback statutes prohibit drug companies from offering financial incentives to doctors or pharmacists to encourage or reward the prescribing of particular drugs, according to a 2003 guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services.