September 28, 2007
Bristol-Myers Squibb Agrees to $515 Million Settlement With Government
Article from WCVB TV/DT Boston -- Company To Pay $515M To Settle Drug Marketing Probes: Bristol-Myers Squibb Agrees To Settlement. Here's an excerpt:
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle federal and state investigations into their drug marketing and pricing practices, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan announced Friday.
Government investigators alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb paid illegal remuneration from 2000 to 2003 in the form of consulting fees to induce doctors and other health care providers to buy the company's drugs.
Investigators also claimed that from 2002 to 2005, the New York-based drugmaker promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychoses. Neither use is approved by the Food and Drug Administration
September 26, 2007
Another Development in the Preemption Wars
The Supreme Court granted cert in Warner-Lambert v. Kent, No. 06-1498. The question presented is whether the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act preempt product liability claims under Michigan law against drug manufacturers that allegedly defrauded the Food and Drug Administration. The case is about Rezulin, the diabetes drug. Point of Law predicts that this will have implications for other pharmaceutical litigation and that the Supreme Court will reverse the Second Circuit. I think this is more likely to have implications for the Light Cigarette Litigation. As I pointed out in an earlier post on the topic, the result will be based on theories of statutory interpretation and federalism principles. This case may give Scalia the opportunity he lost in Cipollone; we shall see.
September 24, 2007
More on Melvyn Weiss Indictment
Article on cnn.money.com -- Mel Weiss is Sinking HIs Firm, by Peter Elkind. Here's an excerpt:
As the government describes it, Weiss was personally involved in dirty dealings with all three of Milberg’s showcase paid plaintiffs—Steven Cooperman, Seymour Lazar, and Howard Vogel—each of whom secretly received millions for serving as name plaintiff in dozens of Milberg class actions. (Lazar, also a defendant in the case, has pled not guilty. Cooperman and Vogel have pled guilty and are cooperating with the government.) The indictment also ties Weiss to an unnamed trio of Florida residents who were paid to serve as plaintiffs in about 60 more lawsuits.
And the allegations are ugly. Weiss is no longer thinly masked, as he was in earlier government filings, as “Partner A.” The new indictment places him at the scene of the alleged crimes from the beginning. It has Weiss, in August 1979, informing his number-two man, senior partner David Bershad (one of the now-cooperating former Milberg lawyers) that he had struck a deal with California investor Lazar to serve as a plaintiff in Milberg lawsuits in exchange for 10% of the firm’s attorney fees in those cases. It has Weiss, in the early 1980s, informing Bershad not to worry about violating the law by paying a Florida plaintiff because they would be making the payments in cash, and thus there would be no paper trail and little risk of getting caught. Indeed, in the mid-1980s, the indictment says, Weiss personally carried “thousands of dollars in cash” from New York to Florida to make payments to two plaintiffs. The indictment details how Weiss—along with Lerach and Bershad—in January 1986 included a provision in the firm’s partnership agreement that would allow the “conspiring partners” to tap the firm’s coffers to reimburse themselves for cash they’d each kicked in to a slush fund for paying plaintiffs. (Some of this cash was stashed in a safe in Bershad’s office at the law firm.) In December 1987, 1988, and 1999, according to the indictment, Weiss then “caused” the firm to reimburse him a total of about $380,000 in cash for such payments.
Louis Robles Guilty Plea
Asbestos plaintiffs' lawyer Louis Robles pleaded guilty last week to three counts of mail fraud for stealing settlement money from his clients, according to this AP story on Forbes.com. He will be sentenced on December 4 in federal court in Miami. Robles faces up to fifteen years in prison, because each count carries a five-year term. He is being held without bail. Robles agreed to a plea deal in April that would have included a ten-year prison term, but Judge Alan Gold rejected it because he considered the sentence too light considering Robles' inability to pay full restitution. Trial was set to begin last week, producing the new plea.