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Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, a law firm dedicated to representing whistleblowers today announced that its client, Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D., of Seattle, Wash., played a key role in uncovering an illegal scheme allegedly organized by pharmaceutical giant Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), which led to $762 million in criminal and civil penalties levied by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2006 Horwitz alerted authorities to Amgen’s alleged manipulation of the scientific record regarding two of its blockbuster drugs, Aranesp and Neulasta. He recognized that this manipulation led to more prescriptions for off-label uses of these drugs, which resulted in enormous expenditures by federal Medicare and state Medicaid programs, according to court documents.
In early 2007 Horwitz filed suit under the federal False Claims Act’s
qui tam provisions, which allow whistleblowers to pursue recoveries on the government’s behalf for funds wrongfully paid. These provisions also allow whistleblowers to receive a portion of the funds recovered as a reward.
“We are proud to have represented Dr. Horwitz in this case,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “It takes an incredible amount of courage to step forward and speak the truth in instances like this.”
“Dr. Horwitz helped put a stop to a fraud that was costing taxpayers billions of dollars, while also improving safety in the use of Aranesp and Neulasta,” Berman added. “For example, many of Dr. Horwitz’s allegations centered on Aranesp used as an off-label treatment for so-called anemia of cancer. That use has been shown to be quite dangerous to oncology patients, and Dr. Horwitz’s suit put a spotlight on Amgen’s unlawful efforts to increase Aranesp prescriptions for this condition.”
Berman also credited the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, particularly AUSAs Harold Malkin, Peter Winn, and Susan Loitz. “Those prosecutors committed themselves to pursuing Amgen for its indefensible conduct and were a fantastic team to work with,” said Berman.