(CN) – The 1st Circuit revived a Medicare fraud case that accused a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary of giving doctors kickbacks in the 1990s for prescribing its expensive anemia drug ProCrit.
The Boston-based court reinstated the kickback part of the lawsuit brought by Mark Duxbury and Dean McClellan, a pair of Johnson & Johnson sales reps-turned-whistleblowers.
The appellate panel, however, dismissed a part of their complaint that accused the pharmaceutical giant of convincing doctors to prescribe ProCrit for unauthorized uses and at dangerously high doses because similar claims were made in another lawsuit.
The kickbacks to doctors allegedly included “free ProCrit, off-invoice discounts and cash in the form of rebates, consulting fees, educational grants, payments to participate in studies or trials, and advisory board honoraria,” according to the ruling.
Such kickbacks caused doctors to submit false Medicare claims for ProCrit, the whistleblowers claimed.
Procrit is used to treat anemia resulting from chemotherapy, chronic kidney disease, HIV infection and blood loss from surgery.