After six years of jousting, Novartis (NVS) appears close to settling a lawsuit in which the federal government alleged the drug maker used kickbacks to doctors — including fishing trips and lavish meals — in order to boost prescriptions of several medicines, according to sources familiar with the matter.
There is no guarantee that a deal will occur. A trial date was set for this coming Monday in a Lower Manhattan courtroom, although a pretrial conference that was scheduled for last Friday was adjourned the previous day, according to court documents. Details of a settlement could not be learned, but sources indicate the company may agree to pay close to $1 billion to resolve the case. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in New York declined to comment, as did a Novartis spokesman.