SEC Probe Forces Bristol-Myers to Review Marketing Practices

25 July 2003

Driven by concerns that its sales and marketing practices may not “comply with the provisions of applicable anti-kickback laws,” global pharma and healthcare company Bristol-Myers Squibb has launched an internal review.

Nervous tics are also in evidence concerning BMS’ compliance with the federal government’s Medicaid ‘Best Price’ requirements, prompting the company into an internal inquiry to ensure that “Medicaid rebates and pricing under certain other US governmental programs which reference the Medicaid rebate program have been appropriate.”

Nor do the pharma giant’s worries end there. The Securities and Exchange Commission has directed its searchlight on the company’s relationships with wholesalers. It has been alleged that in recent years the latter have been coerced into buying billions of dollars more of BMS products than they could sell – an action that would artificially have boosted Bristol-Myers’ profits.

This array of tiger-traps comes in the wake of January’s agreement with state attorneys that BMS would pay $670 million (€583.85m; £415.73m) to resolve accusations that it unfairly delayed, to the detriment of patient-care, generic competition for its BuSpar anxiety drug and its Taxol cancer treatment.

In a statement to BrandWeek [seemingly dictated down to the last comma by a legion of lawyers], the company said it could not predict the outcome of its internal review because it is still in process: “[We] cannot reasonably assess the impact, if any, of these matters on [our] business or reasonably estimate the amount of any possible loss or range of loss with respect to these matters, which could include the imposition of civil or criminal fines, penalties and administrative remedies and/or liability for additional rebate amounts, or whether any such impact or loss could be material.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff