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Ex-Sales Director At Serono Pleads Guilty to Kickback
December 22, 2004
A former sales director at a subsidiary of Swiss biotechnology company Ares-Serono SA pleaded guilty to violating U.S. antikickback law by offering free trips to doctors in return for writing prescriptions for an AIDS drug.
The guilty plea by Adam Stupak, 40 years old, of Hewlett, N.Y., is the latest development in criminal and civil probes of the Serono unit's marketing practices for Serostim, a drug approved to treat AIDS-wasting syndrome.
Mr. Stupak is cooperating with federal prosecutors, said his attorney, Evan Slavitt. Mr. Stupak also has filed a civil lawsuit under seal in U.S. District Court in Boston, alleging Serono didn't pay legal fees in connection with the investigation as previously agreed, Mr. Slavitt said.
The U.S. attorney's office in Boston, which is leading the probe, said the investigation is continuing.
According to charges filed in the court last week, Mr. Stupak and five other regional sales directors were ordered in 1999 by senior Serono employees to target top-prescribing doctors and to induce them to write more prescriptions in a program called the "$6m-6 Day Plan," with a sales goal of $6 million in prescriptions in six days.
For writing the prescriptions, the doctors would receive a free trip to an AIDS conference in Cannes, France, valued at $5,000 to $10,000, the U.S. attorney said in court documents
Mr. Stupak offered three New York City doctors, identified in the information as Drs. "O," "G" and "W," the trip to Cannes in exchange for writing at least 10 additional prescriptions of Serostim. Only one of the doctors, Dr. "W," wrote the extra prescriptions, and none attended the conference, according to the U.S. attorney.
A Serono spokeswoman declined to comment on the investigation, citing company policy.
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