Whistleblowers claim Warner execs flouted marketing rules

Two former Warner Chilcott reps have blown the whistle. In a False Claims Act lawsuit unsealed last week, the ex-salespeople detail a long series of allegations, including kickbacks, privacy violations and off-label shenanigans.

According to the suit, Warner Chilcott flouted the rules in marketing 9 of its drugs, including the bone treatments Actonel and Atelvia, the colitis drug Asacol, and the acne drug Doryx. Among the litany of allegations are the following:

  • Doctors were wined and dined, and so-called speaker events often didn't include speakers. Reps were told to follow up with doctors who'd been entertained, using IMS Health prescription data to browbeat doctors who didn't prescribe Warner Chilcott's drugs as promised. "[C]all them on their s---," reps were told. Doing so was termed the "business conversation," the suit says.
  • Entertaining doctors was so important at Warner Chilcott that reps in Minnesota and Massachusetts--where state laws restricting the practice had been enacted--were told to ignore the law. Sales managers told Massachusetts reps to take doctors to dinner or be fired, and falsify their expense reports to make the meals look like take-out for consumption in doctors' offices.
  • The company hired young and inexperienced reps, partly so it could flout the rules without complaints from salespeople who knew better, the suit alleges. When Warner acquired a force of 700 seasoned reps in its deal for Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals ($PG), it fired or "packaged out" a majority of them because top managers believed "P&GP representatives were not willing to engage in the illegal practices that formed the crux of Warner Chilcott's business model," the suit claims. Reps who did complain about orders to break the rules were fired, the suit claims.
  • To persuade doctors to use Warner's drugs, reps would fill out prior authorization forms for insurance coverage, using confidential information from patients' files. Management advocated this practice, despite company policy prohibiting it--and despite the fact that sharing private patient info is illegal. Reps who were good at it were promoted.
  • The company used cost-sharing coupons to drive prescriptions for Medicare and Medicaid patients, despite rules requiring coupons to be limited to privately insured patients only. Sales reps were warned to ignore--and to tell doctors and pharmacists to ignore--warnings on the backs of its own coupons and loyalty cards.

There's much more in the 262-page complaint, including reps' entertainment budgets and speakers' bureau quotas, if you're interested.

- read the Law360 story (sub. req.)
- see the complaint filed in Massachusetts court (PDF)