New York Times Reports Danish Drugmaker Paid U.S. Pharmacist to Switch Drugs at Major Drugstore ChainJan 30, 2006 The New York Times has reported that Novo Nordisk A/S, a Danish pharmaceutical company and the world’s biggest maker of insulin, may have engaged in improper conduct by paying at least one pharmacist for the Rite-Aid drugstore chain to persuade switches from Eli Lilly’s products or to upgrade to more expensive versions of its own.
The Times conducted interviews of present and former company officials and examined documents relating to the allegations. Novo has already received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, for marketing and promotional documents related to an investigation into potential criminal conduct in its health-care benefits programs.
Novo partnered with Rite Aid Corp. after Lilly reached an agreement on a marketing deal with the Eckerd chain. Novo also hired hundreds of sales representatives in its bid to gain a market share, the Times said.
According to two former sales representatives interviewed by the Times, Novo also paid doctors' assistants when prescriptions were switched. According to Reuters: “Several former sales representatives said they were told by pharmacists and doctors' assistants that some patients first became aware of the switches when they picked up the new medicines at a pharmacy, the Times said.”