Amgen (AMGN) Whistle-Blower Loses Bid to Challenge Aranesp Deal  
1/3/2013 7:45:32 AM

A doctor who accused Amgen Inc. (AMGN) of illegally marketing drugs failed to persuade a federal judge to hold a hearing in which he could challenge the company’s $612 million civil settlement of misbranding claims. U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson denied the doctor’s request today, according to a record filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. The order didn’t give any explanation for the decision. Dr. Joseph Piacentile, a New Jersey physician, said in court papers that he got an “ultimatum” from the government to either sign on to a global settlement of Amgen whistle-blower claims or face possible dismissal of his case. Piacentile declined to participate in the settlement and the U.S. has since asked the judge to dismiss the suit, according to court records. Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding its anemia drug Aranesp and agreed to settle a group of whistle- blower suits alleging the company also engaged in illegal sales practices regarding other drugs. The company agreed to pay $150 million in criminal penalties and $612 million in civil settlements. Piacentile declined to settle because the government refused to provide information about his allocation of the total settlement, a lawyer for Piacentile, Eric Cramer, said in a memorandum filed Dec. 28. As a so-called relator, Piacentile could share in a recovery under the False Claims Act.