In a qui tam lawsuit brought by three former employees, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is accused of fostering a culture that encouraged kickbacks. In a document titled “Bristol-Myers Squibb Cultural Expectations” published for the companies’ sales reps, employees are encouraged to commit company funds and personnel to regions that can produce gains. BMS also stressed to its employees the importance of “entrepreneurial risk tasking.” These included expending “significant resources” to “achieve impossible objectives.”
As specific examples of the culture of kickbacks, the relators offered a 1997 BMS Lakers “Dream Camp” to which physicians and their families were invited in an effort to encourage the physicians to prescribe the cholesterol drug Pravachol. The Dream Camp included meeting and getting basketball pointers from famous Lakers in addition to photos and autographs. The camp attendees were given purple jerseys emblazoned with “Pravachol” and the physicians were provided with CME about “Safety and Efficacy of HMG Therapy.” The invitations to the event, however, made no mention of medical-related activity. Additionally, in May 2001 BMS sponsored a Medical Education Diabetes Program at Disneyland at a cost of $5,000. During the same May 2001 time period, BMS was also sponsoring an educational symposium on diabetes for endocrinologist in Puerto Rico, at which physicians and their spouses were treated to travel, accommodations, and one recreational activity. The plaintiff’s claim these gifts were kickbacks which triggered insurers to pay for name brand drugs when it was either not necessary, or could have been substituted for a generic. The California Insurance Commissioner has intervened.