Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm Biogen disclosed Wednesday it reached a $900 million agreement in principle to resolve a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit brought by a whistleblower alleging the payment of unlawful kickbacks to physicians.

Michael Bawduniak, a former employee of Biogen, sued the company in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 2012, claiming it paid doctors to discourage them from prescribing the products of Biogen’s competitors. The alleged kickbacks were intended to prevent the company’s multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs—Avonex, Tysabri, and Tecfidera—from losing market share to newer alternatives.

Trial in the case was expected to begin next week in federal court in Boston.

Bawduniak brought the lawsuit under the qui tam provisions of the FCA, which allow private parties to sue on behalf of federal and state governments for the submission of false claims for government funds and receive a share of any recovery. Because the U.S. government in 2015 declined to intervene in the case, Bawduniak is entitled to a higher award—between 25 to 30 percent—of the recovery.

“We believe this settlement represents the largest recovery in the over 150 years of False Claims Act cases to be secured by a whistleblower without the intervention or participation of the United States,” said attorney Thomas Greene, Bawduniak’s lead counsel at Boston-based law firm Greene, in a press release.

Biogen disclosed the agreement in its second-quarter results filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal does not include any admission of liability and is subject to the negotiation of final settlement agreements and documents.

“We are resolving this matter to avoid the distraction of litigation and to allow the company to focus on our strategic priorities and the patients we serve,” a Biogen spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

In his lawsuit, Bawduniak claimed the compliance department at Biogen was “nothing more than a rubber stamp.” The department’s concerns regarding consultant meetings were ignored, he alleged, and despite compliance succeeding in requiring feedback at the meetings to be recorded, the opinions went unread.

In 2009 and 2010 alone, Biogen paid $18 million to 1,500 doctors and nurses writing prescriptions totaling approximately 60 percent of the MS market, the lawsuit claimed. Compensation came via “sham” speaker and consultant deals and lavish dinners and entertainment. The alleged scheme continued through 2014 and “caused the submission of hundreds of millions of dollars in false reimbursement claims for Biogen’s MS drugs to government healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.”

Biogen in 2020 agreed to pay $22 million to resolve separate qui tam claims it violated the FCA by illegally using foundations as a conduit to pay the copays of Medicare patients taking Avonex and Tysabri. The Justice Department intervened in that case.