The key factor is: be a drug company.
In this case, Celgene. Their drugs are Thalomid and Revlimid. They are approved for multiple myeloma, one type of cancer.
Here’s the thing. Doctors can decide to prescribe drugs for uses which are not approved by the FDA, but the manufacturers can’t promote those “off-label” uses to doctors. That’s illegal.
A long-running suit against Celgene, launched by Beverly Brown, who used to be the company’s sales manager, contends that:
Celgene trained its sales team to promote off-label uses to doctors;
Celgene sales people intentionally lied about studies, claiming the studies showed the off-label uses were beneficial to patients;
And the company omitted vital warnings about the drugs’ uses from the drugs’ labels.
Back in 2014, the judge in the case, George King, slammed Celgene for trying to convince him to dismiss the case. King pointed out that the plaintiff, Beverly Brown, appeared to have direct knowledge of the scam, because company higher-ups laid out the details to her.
Finally, now, the lawsuit has been settled. Celgene will pay out $280 million.
But wait. Revlimid, one of the two Celgene drugs named in the suit, garnered a whopping $5 billion in sales, in 2015. FiercePharma, a website dedicated to industry news, predicts the drug will rake in $15 billion in 2022.
On top of all this, Celgene admits no wrongdoing in the lawsuit settlement.
Nice work if you can get it, and Celgene can.