Calif. pharmacy to pay $11.4M over kickback claims

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A San Diego-based specialty pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay about $11.4 million to resolve allegations it used sporting event tickets, spa outings and other kickbacks to induce doctors to write prescriptions for its products, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Victory Pharma Inc. agreed to pay a criminal forfeiture of $1.4 million to resolve anti-kickback statute allegations and more than $9.9 million to resolve false-claims allegations in marketing of their pain reliever products Naprelan, Xodol, Fexmid and Dolgic. In return, they avoided criminal and civil liability.

"This resolution underscores the need for physicians to make treatment decisions based on their own independent medical judgment, without being influenced by kickbacks or other improper benefits," said Laura E. Duffy, the U.S. attorney for Southern California.

The alleged kickbacks included tickets to concerts and plays, golf and ski outings, expensive dinners and other events.

Patients covered by Medicare and other federal health insurance programs were prescribed Victory's products.

Victory encouraged sales representatives to schedule paid "preceptorships" in which they shadowed doctors in their offices, allegedly to induce them to prescribe Victory's products, authorities said.

A working company phone listing could not be immediately located, and a web address for the company did not work.