What is a Pharmaceutical Fraud?
Any practice, whether in marketing, producing or testing a drug or medical device that results in a federal program paying more for a drug may qualify as pharmaceutical fraud. Common fraud schemes include promoting drugs in a way that encourages doctors to prescribe medication in ways that are not FDA approved (off-label marketing), manufacturing and selling defective or ineffective drugs and devices, and manipulating the price Medicare and Medicaid pay for a drug.
When drugmakers’ sales representatives tell a doctor that a prescription drug that has been approved, for example, to treat cardiovascular conditions can be used to treat migraines, it is then marketed as an off-label. Some large drug companies also provided the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) misleading or false information about their medications’ safety, altering data obtained during clinical research trials. In other instances instead, the Big Pharma companies offered physicians and pharmacists various incentives to prescribe their branded medications. Those kickbacks included free cruises or trips, tickets for the spa, and expensive dinners worth up to $10,000 — although they deceitfully hid those practices as “marketing education,” it is usually just bribery. Other types of unlawful practices include providing misleading information about drugs (Continuing Medical Education Fraud), violating manufacturing standards (Current Good Manufacturing Practice violations), or charging federal healthcare programs for more expensive brand-name medications although the patient actually received cheaper generic ones (billing for brand).