Biogen pays $900M to settle doctor kickback allegations

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. kickback / ˈkɪkˌbæk / (n.) – an amount of money paid to someone illegally for providing help in a secret deal

    One of the managers agreed to receive a kickback for the expensive laptops the company bought.

  2. prescribe / prɪˈskraɪb / (v.) – to give a patient official advice on what medicine, treatment, etc. to use

    This medicine should not be prescribed to children.

  3. recovery / rɪˈkʌv ə ri / (n.) – an object or amount of money taken back after being lost or stolen

    The recoveries include jewelry and a huge amount of money.

  4. intent / ɪnˈtɛnt / (n.) – an aim or purpose

    I spent the whole day doing nothing, but that wasn’t really my intent.

  5. bring (something) to light / brɪŋ tə laɪt / (idiom) – to make something known

    Several employees brought the problem about the rude manager to light.


Read the text below.

Biogen has agreed to pay $900 million to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by paying kickbacks to doctors to persuade them to prescribe its multiple sclerosis drugs, federal prosecutors said.

The agreement settled a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former Biogen employee Michael Bawduniak, according to a statement from the office of U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins.

Under the terms of the settlement, Biogen will pay more than $843 million to the federal government and more than $56 million to 15 states for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Bawduniak will receive a portion of the federal recovery.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company in a statement said it settled so it can focus on “our patients and strategic priorities” and said the settlement does not include an admission of liability.

“Biogen believes its intent and conduct was at all times lawful and appropriate and Biogen denies all allegations raised in this case,” the company’s statement said.

The lawsuit alleged that from January 2009 through March 2014, Biogen paid physicians speaking fees, consulting fees and bought them meals that were actually kickbacks, to get them to prescribe Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.

“We thank Mr. Bawduniak for uncovering this behavior and bringing it to light,” Rollins said. “This matter is an important example of the vital role that whistleblowers and their attorneys can play in protecting our nation’s public health care programs.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Biogen is a pharmaceutical company that’s involved in a lawsuit for paying kickbacks. What do you think of pharmaceutical companies that get involved in such issues? Discuss.
  • In a statement, Biogen said the settlement does not include an admission of liability. Based on this action, do you think Biogen is liable or not? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Biogen allegedly paid doctors kickbacks to get them to prescribe the company’s medicines. After reading this article, how does this affect your opinion of medicines prescribed by doctors (ex. I can’t fully trust those medicines, I’ll still use the medicines doctors prescribe)? Why? Discuss.
  • Biogen allegedly violated the Anti-Kickback Statute. What do you think should be the penalty for people and organizations paying and accepting kickbacks? Discuss.