Bard forks over $48.3M to settle kickback lawsuit

C.R. Bard ($BCR) will fork over $48.3 million to settle allegations that it resorted to kickbacks to boost the use of its radioactive brachytherapy seeds to treat prostate cancer.

In addition, the company will pay a $2.2 million fine and also take steps to boost its corporate compliance efforts, the Department of Justice disclosed.

Bard issued a statement on the settlement to WSBTV in Atlanta (the case was handled in Georgia), expressing that it was "pleased that it finalized agreements with the government." Additionally, Bard said "we emphasize and expect that all of our employees around the world adhere to the highest ethical behavior in all daily activities, and comply with all laws and regulations that apply to the conduct of Bard's business worldwide."

But federal officials claimed the company paid grants, offered rebates and even free medical equipment to physicians and hospitals in exchange for using their prostate cancer treatment. Hospitals, in turn, billed Medicare for the seeds, and the government said that Bard was liable for encouraging the practice. Bard allegedly made the payments from 1998 through 2006. All of this became a legal matter after ex-Bard brachytherapy manager Julie Darity filed a whistleblower lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Georgia, claiming she was fired after noticing the kickbacks. The Department of Justice says she'll be paid more than $10.1 million out of the overall civil settlement.

Darity's attorney, Marlan Wilbanks, told WSBTV ("Channel 2 Action News"), that Darity asked to keep her laptop after being fired, but had to pay $250 to cover the cost.

Bard doesn't need the bad press right now. The company is among those facing lawsuits regarding the safety of vaginal mesh implants.

- read the DOJ release
- here's the WSBTV online coverage
- check out Reuters' take