Novartis (NVS) has set aside $700 million to settle a long-running lawsuit in which the federal government alleged the drug maker used kickbacks to doctors — including fishing trips, lavish meals, and “sham” speaking events — in order to boost prescriptions of several medicines a decade ago.
A trial had been scheduled to start in federal court in New York this past May. At the time, however, STAT reported the trial was delayed as the company began negotiating with federal prosecutors and Novartis might pay close to $1 billion in order to settle the case.
A settlement would give Novartis a much-needed opportunity to dispense with a string of well-publicized cases involving bribes paid to doctors or public health employees in the U.S. and elsewhere that have tarnished its reputation. The issue has vexed Novartis chief executive Vas Narasimhan, who has made restoring the company’s corporate image a key priority since being promoted early last year.