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Big Pharma’s 2018 included fraud, bribery arrests and more

It’s the season for holiday celebrations, family get-togethers and year-end reviews. Big Pharma has been wildly successful, as usual, but has also been rocked throughout 2018 with prominent figures being arrested for wire fraud, securities fraud, bribery and more.

Among the companies mired in scandal was North Chicago-based AbbVie, which faced allegations that it engaged in a kickback scheme to boost Illinois sales of its rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira. It was accused of providing kickbacks in cash, but also in the form of trips, patient referrals, gifts, meals and more.

One of the biggest headlines of the year was generated by the arrest of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and the company’s former president, Sunny Balwani for wire fraud. According to news reports, Holmes has agreed to pay a half-million-dollar fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission over past allegations.

No one in the pharmaceutical industry generated more negative press in 2018 than “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. He was sentenced to prison early this year after he was found guilty on three counts of securities fraud. Shkreli had been accused of duping investors out of $11 million as hedge fund manager at MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare.

PixarBio’s CEO is also facing criminal charges. Frank Reynolds and two associates were charged with securities fraud. All three are accused of making false, misleading statements to investors and manipulating data to inflate stock prices.

Charges of bribery and kickbacks rocked Sanofi in 2018, though the French firm has settled the accusations with the federal government’s SEC for $25 million.

Those facing similar accusations – or who believe they are investigation for matters involving bribery, wire fraud or health care fraud – should decline to speak to investigators or prosecutors until they have spoken with an attorney experienced in white collar defense.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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