Two employees of the pharma company accountable for a huge increase in drug prices in the US have blown the whistle saying the firm bribed several doctors and staff to push sales, as declared in unsealed documents submitted to the federal court. The whistleblowers say the whole act by Questcor Pharmaceuticals, presently known as Mallinckrodt, was a part of a multi-tier strategy aimed at boosting sales of a Gel – H.P. Acthar, thereby deceiving the government of millions.
Known best for treating an uncommon seizure disorder in infants, the drug’s price has risen to around $39,000 today, from its initial price of $40 in 2000 – a whopping 97,000%.
After an extensive investigation in the case, the Department of Justice Department will now intervene, possibly implying the government acknowledges the allegations made by the two whistleblowers.
The price hike, along with aggressively pushing sales in areas of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis ultimately pushed annual sales of the drug to more than $1 billion, with a large chunk of those sales driven by reimbursements from Medicare.
In a lawsuit against the drugmaker, the whistleblowers have said that such conduct by the company has led to the federal government being cheated out of their money, thus enriching the organization and inadvertently permitting patients to be subjected to an unsafe and unapproved Gel.
In 2014, when Mallinckrodt acquired Questcor, they did nothing to stop any of Questcor’s illegal practices in play since 2007.
If found at fault, Mallinckrodt are looking at paying almost three times the amount the government claims that they were defrauded, along with penalties worth $11,000 for every false claim.
Mallinckrodt distanced itself from Questcor (previous owner of Acthar) and envisions low or nil impact on how they conduct business today. They expressed disappointment over the DOJ intervening in the case, but said that advanced settlement talks between them and the government have been ongoing for several months.
The whistleblowers’ attorney Marc Orlow holds his clients as heroes for standing up to the corrupt culture which cost taxpayers millions of their hard-earned money.