On September 14, 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced an $11.8 million settlement against Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation related to Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act violations. According to the allegations, from January 2002 through November 2011, Novartis engaged in a kickback scheme by offering cash payments, meals, and honoraria to healthcare practitioners that impacted Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Novartis allegedly offered these kickbacks to encourage practitioners to prescribe certain Novartis products, including Lotrel, Valturna, Starlix, Tekamlo, Diovan, Diovan HCT, Tekturna, Tekturna HCT, Exforge, and Exforge HCT.
In the settlement, Novartis admitted that between January 2002 and November 2011, it held meetings and events as part of its marketing efforts for the above-named drugs, including events such as speaker programs and roundtables. Novartis also admitted that many sales representatives that worked for the company were “specifically evaluated in their annual reviews” on how much of their budget for promotional programs they used. If a sales representative did not use all of his/her budget, “that could be a negative factor in his/her annual review.”