Times are tough at Biogen Idec following its decision, along with Irish partner Elan Corporation, to withdraw Tysabri (natalizumab) after just three months on the market [[01/03/05a]]. But the multiple sclerosis drug is not the only product from the US firm that’s in the news.
Citing the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires reports that a former Biogen Idec manager has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of providing illegal discounts to doctors in a bid to boost sales of its products, most notably the psoriasis drug Amevive (alefacept). Lisa Blanton, who the article calls “a former associate director for reimbursement at Biogen Idec”, has claimed that the company used a combination of free samples and price discounts to compensate doctors who prescribed the drugs for patients but were later denied reimbursement by insurers.
Biogen Idec has made no official statement on the case, but has launched a countersuit claiming Ms Blanton was sacked for poor job performance. The article adds that Biogen Idec is accusing her and her lawyers of making “extortionate demands for settlement payments” before filing the lawsuit. She is suing for wrongful dismissal and is reportedly seeking at least $4 million dollars in damages.
Aside from the Blanton case, Biogen Idec is facing more court action as a number of lawsuits seeking class-action status on behalf of shareholders have been filed in federal courts in the USA, which claim that the firm artificially inflated the value of its stock before the withdrawal of Tysabri.