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US sues Novartis in NY, alleging doctor kickbacks

NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. government has sued Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., saying the company paid kickbacks to doctors to steer patients toward its drugs.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan. It comes two days after the government brought a similar lawsuit against Novartis, which is based in East Hanover, N.J. That lawsuit said the company paid kickbacks to pharmacies to switch kidney transplant patients from competitors' drugs to its own.

In a statement, Novartis said it disputes the claims in both cases and looks forward to presenting the facts in court. It said discounts and rebates by pharmaceutical companies are a customary, appropriate and legal practice. And it defended promotional programs designed to inform physicians about the appropriate use of its medicines.