Serono Sales Director Pleads Guilty to Kickbacks
Adam Stupak, pleaded guilty on December 21, 2004 to offering three New York City doctors free trips to France if they agreed to write 30 new prescriptions for Serostim in one week. The illegal promotion was part of Serono’s “$6m-6 Day Plan” to increase demand for Serostim, an expensive drug used in the treatment of AIDS wasting.
A press release by the US Attorney in Boston describes the situation at Serono that prompted the promotion. Serostim, a growth hormone, was approved by the FDA in 1996 for the treatment of involuntary weight loss in patients with AIDS, which at the time was the leading cause of death among AIDS patients. Protease inhibitors came on the market at the same time as Serostim (generic somatropin). Protease inhibitors were so successful at controlling AIDS and preventing symptoms, that the market for Serostim started to dwindle.
In 1999, Serostim was not going to meet its sales forecast, so management ordered the regional sales directors to convince top prescribers to prescribe more Serostim. Their goal was to increase Serostim prescriptions by $6 million in six days. To do this, they offered top prescribers an all expense paid trip for the prescriber and a guest to an international conference on HIV being held in Cannes, France. In exchange, the doctors would agree to write at least 30 new prescriptions for Serostim within one week. Each 3-month prescription was worth about $21,000, so each doctor would have to generate $630,000 in Serostim scripts to get the trip.
In March 1999, Stupak visited three top prescribers to offer them the deal. During Serano’s national sales meeting later that month, the marketing department announced 10 physicians who were invited to the conference in France. The total value of the prescriptions written to win these trips was about $6 million.
Stupak could be sentenced to up to 5 years in jail and a $75,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 15, 2005.
The investigation is continuing, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see cases against the other five regional sales directors.
Press release: Serono Executive Pleads Guilty to Offering Kickbacks
Please review your claims for abuse of Serostim. Based on trends in the treatment of AIDS, legitimate use of Serostim should be declining. However, due to huge problems with fraud, you’ll probably find that Serostim use has been increasing. Other articles on Serostim Fraud: