Marketing News

Warner Chilcott’s marketing probe snared a doctor, and now she could go to prison

A jury convicted a doctor of lying to investigators and sharing patient data with a Warner Chilcott sales representative. (Pixabay)

Years after federal officials failed to win a guilty verdict against former Warner Chilcott president W. Carl Reichel, a doctor involved hasn’t been so fortunate. Rita Luthra, M.D.,  was convicted Monday in a Warner marketing scheme—and in more evidence that it’s the cover-up that gets you, for lying to investigators.

On Monday, a federal jury in Massachusetts convicted Luthra of allowing a Warner sales representative access to patient records and denying her ties to the company during an investigation, according to the Massachusetts Department of Justice. The court hasn’t yet scheduled her sentencing.

The obstruction of justice charge carries a high potential penalty of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the Justice Department.

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FiercePharma!
Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FiercePharma as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on drugs and the companies that make them. Sign up today to get pharma news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

In 2010, a Warner Chilcott representative asked Luthra to be a paid speaker and hold “med ed” events in her office, prosecutors said. No other healthcare providers attended the purported educational events. Luthra and the sales representative met for breakfast or lunch in the doctor’s office. 

For about 30 of those events, the company paid Luthra $23,500 in fees. While the government didn’t secure a conviction of accepting kickbacks, a jury found that the doctor illegally allowed the representative to look at patient data.

RELATED: Ex-Warner exec found not guilty in kickbacks trial, but the ‘Yates memo’ lives on 

Warner Chilcott is now part of Allergan after a 2015 megamerger with Actavis, which itself snapped up Warner in 2013.  

Warner came under fire in 2015 for its marketing, based on allegations spanning 2009 to 2013. Authorities alleged that the company and its management paid kickbacks to doctors to induce them to write more prescriptions. 

Allergan ended up paying $125 million to resolve the claims, and former Warner Chilcott president W. Carl Reichel famously avoided a conviction, despite then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates urging federal prosecutors to seek criminal charges against executives to deter corporate misbehavio.

source: Fierce Pharma

mm
Eric Sagonowsky
Eric Sagonowsky is an associate editor with the FierceMarkets Life Sciences team. Before joining Fierce in November 2014, Eric worked as a news reporter for theManistee News Advocate in Manistee, Mich., covering government and crime issues. Eric graduated from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2012 with a degree in Online Journalism. On campus, Eric wrote for The Athens News and The New Political. In his free time, Eric enjoys outdoor recreation, following sports of all kinds and exploring the metro D.C. area. He can be reached atesagonowsky@fiercemarkets.com.