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See No Evil: How Too-Detailed Expense Reports Allegedly Got an Amgen Sales Rep Fired

Amgen (AMGN) fired a sales rep because he was too detailed on his expense reports, according to a lawsuit filed in a California state court. The case isn't just about expense reports, of course. Rather, as a former Amgen employee alleges, it's about what Amgen's management knows and doesn't want to know about how its salesforce promotes the kidney drug Aranesp. Amgen denies the claims and is fighting the case.

Expense reports are the rabbit holes of corporate life: Each one tells a story in which the author arranges a narrative of events in the most convincing way possible. Of course those apple martinis were work-related! Normally, accounts payable departments are eager for as much detail as possible on employees' expense reports in order to ensure staffers aren't subsidizing their personal lives with the company dime. Similarly, anyone who racks up personal expenses paying for work-related stuff knows that it's wise to document everything in order not to subsidize your employer.

Ignorance is bliss
Except, that is, at Amgen, according to former sales rep Donald Hanks.

Hanks worked for Amgen between 1989 and 2007, and claims the company uses a variety of illegal methods to promote Aranesp, including rebates, off-invoice discounts, volume discounts, free goods, extravagant dinners and lavish retreats for doctors. The company also allegedly priced its drugs so that a "margin" or "spread" accrued to doctors or hospitals -- all of which are potential violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, Hanks claims.

Amgen also paid medical staff in a position to influence prescriptions "honorariums" for "roundtable discussions" on a sliding scale, Hanks alleges:

  • Doctors: $1,000
  • Pharmacists: $750
  • Nurses: $500
  • Office billing staff: $350
Amgen declined to comment. The allegations aren't unique. Similar claims have been made in at least two other suits, one of which was dismissed. Hanks' twist is that he claims he described exactly what he was spending his expenses budget on, and Amgen didn't want to know in case the feds found out (click to enlarge):

Shortly after that Hanks was fired because he represented a "risk" to the company, he claims. Amgen declined to comment.


Image by Flickr user JohnSnape, CC.
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