In 2017, Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (“Aegerion”) pled guilty and reached a settlement of $35 million to resolve allegations that it misbranded its cholesterol medication Juxtapid by, among other things, failing to provide accurate and complete information about the drug’s indication or adequate directions for its use. The settlement also resolved charges that Aegerion violated anti-kickback laws.
In connection with the drug fraud scheme, a former Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. salesman, Mark Moffett, was also convicted of nine counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identity. On October 28, 2021, Judge William G. Young handed down a 4½ year prison sentence, just short of the six years the Federal Government was seeking.
Due to the high risk of serious side effects including potential liver damage, Juxtapid was only approved by the FDA for use on patients suffering from homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia ("HoFH"). According to the government, Moffett forged doctors' signatures, fabricated patient test results, drug histories, and diagnoses, and completed authorization forms necessary for insurance companies to obtain Juxtapid for patients who did not have HoFH. Due to the high cost of the drug, each successful sale of the drug yielded tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to Moffett, ultimately leading Moffett to refer to himself as a "puppet master" in a text message to his supervisor. As part of Moffett's defense case, Moffett's attorney described him in court documents as a "selfless, generous, compassionate human being driven by the need to help others, even where he has nothing at all to gain." Since being found guilty, Moffett had, in multiple instances, successfully avoided being sentenced due to persistent health issues and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, states in the news release, “Today’s sentence holds Mark Moffett accountable for gaming the healthcare system to line his own pockets. He deceived doctors and patients to boost sales of this powerful drug, and defrauded Medicare in the process. Fraud of this magnitude will not be tolerated because it drives up healthcare costs for all of us."
A copy of the DOJ News Release is available here.
For more information regarding DOJ enforcement, please see the Government Prosecutions Section of the Enforcement Actions Database.