Novartis, a pharmaceutical company, has agreed in principle to pay $390 million to settle U.S. allegations that it used kickbacks to specialty pharmacies to push sales of some drugs, the Swiss company said on Tuesday.
The U.S. Justice Department had sued Novartis in Manhattan federal court, saying the world's biggest seller of prescription drugs sought illegally to boost sales of drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The lawsuit accused Novartis of paying rebates to induce specialty pharmacies to recommend iron-reducing Exjade and immunosuppressant Myfortic.
The company's chief executive, Joe Jimenez, told reporters Novartis had made the disputed payments to ensure patients took the drugs, including treatments to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, but U.S. government attorneys disagreed.
"We're not admitting liability, it's something we just believe we want to put behind us," Jimenez said.
The $390 million settlement, still pending approval, pushed Novartis's third-quarter net income down 42 percent to $1.8 billion.