NEW YORK May 29 A federal judge has refused to
dismiss a U.S. government lawsuit accusing Novartis AG
of civil fraud for having conducted two illegal kickback schemes
to boost sales of drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan rejected
the Swiss drugmaker's argument that the lawsuit should be
dismissed because the government had failed to plead fraud "with
The government accused Novartis of having since 2005 induced
at least 20 pharmacies to switch thousands of kidney transplant
patients to its immunosuppressant drug Myfortic by providing
kickbacks, in the form of discounts and rebates.
It also claimed that Novartis provided kickbacks, in the
form of patient referrals and rebates, to BioScrip Inc
in exchange for that company recommending refills of Exjade, a
drug meant to reduce excess iron in patients who receive blood
Julie Masow, a Novartis spokeswoman, declined to comment.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Nate
Raymond; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)