Amgen Pleads Guilty, Pays $762 Million

Ten whistleblower cases were filed against biotechnology giant Amgen, accusing the company of off-label marketing, kickbacks, price-gouging, and putting patient health at risk.

Now, thanks to whistleblowers and their private lawyers, Amgen has agreed to accept criminal liability for off-label marketing of the anemia drug Aranesp, as well as five other drugs, and will also pay $762 million in civil liability.

Amgen's marketing plan for Aranesp was nothing less than a clown car of fraud, with the company's sales force geared towards "marketing the spread" between the true price of the drug and the list price which was billed to the government. Hospitals and cancer doctors were only too willing to pocket increased profits even though patient health may have been put at risk.

Whistleblower Jill Osiecki, who wore a wire 13 times while working for the Office of the Inspector General of HHS, noted that the fraud here was not a simple mistake.

"The Amgen people who engaged in these criminal activities were no less mindful they were engaging in illegal behavior than muggers or bank robbers. They were smart, mature adults, who made conscious decisions to disobey the law to personally profit from highly incentivized pay, bonuses, awards, and international travel."

In the end, of course, the profits were privatized, and the costs commonized.

Despite taking a criminal plea, paying hundreds of millions of dollars, and jeopardizing patient health and safety, no one at Amgen will go to jail, no one will lose their job, and no one will pay a personal fine. The massive fine paid by the company will simply come out of the pocket of stockholders. Everyone who got a promotion, a bonus, or a raise for designing and implementing this massive fraud scheme, will get to keep their private profit.

Along with Aranesp, Amgen was also nailed for illegal sales and promotion of Enbrel, Epogen, Neulasta, Neupogen, and Sensipar.