March 19, 2011
"California regulators are taking aim at giant drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., accusing it of bribing doctors and pharmacists to use its products by offering thousands of cash kickbacks, gifts and "happy hours" with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The case against the drug company was developed with the help of former Lakers player Lucius Allen and his wife, Eve, who worked for Bristol-Myers and provided access to the basketball team, according to a lawsuit made public Friday. Doctors and family members were invited to Lakers Dream Camps arranged by the company, the lawsuit said.
Doctors also were treated to tickets and luxury suites for Lakers games, and received pointers, balls and autographs from some of the team's most famous players, the suit alleges.
New York-based Bristol-Myers vowed to fight the case. "Bristol-Myers Squibb believes this lawsuit has no merit and the company will defend itself vigorously," it said in a statement.
The California lawsuit was originally filed in March 2007 by Michael Wilson, a former Bristol-Myers employee. It was sealed until last week when a judge granted a request by the state Department of Insurance — which joined the suit — to make it public.
The case is the latest major legal action against Bristol-Myers over fraud accusations. In 2007, it paid $515 million to settle allegations by the federal government and other states that it used a kickback scheme to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. . . " Read More