Shares of drugmaker Mallinckrodt slumped more than 40% Wednesday after the market close, following a report from Bloomberg that the company was considering filing for bankruptcy as it faces a wave of opioid lawsuits.
The company is already facing $5 billion in debt, according to the Bloomberg article, and may file for bankruptcy if it is unable to meet its legal liabilities.
The report says that the company has hired law firm Latham & Watkins and consulting firm AlixPartners to advise on any potential moves.
Mallinckrodt has agreed to pay more than $15 million to resolve claims that the company's Questcor unit paid illegal kickbacks to doctors — in the form of lavish dinners and entertainment — to induce prescriptions of the company's drug from 2009 to 2013, according to a recent release from the Department of Justice.
The government alleged that from 2009 to 2013, 12 Questcor sales reps marketing the company's drug, H.P. Acthar Gel (Acthar), provided illegal payments to health-care providers in the form of expensive meals and entertainment, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
The federal Anti-Kickback Statute is a health-care fraud and abuse statute that "prohibits the exchange of remuneration —which the statute defines broadly as anything of value — for referrals for services that are payable by a federal program, which, in the context of healthcare providers, is Medicare."
This prohibition extends to practices as "wining and dining doctors to induce them to write Medicare prescriptions of a company's products."
"The Department of Justice will hold companies accountable for the payment of illegal kickbacks in any form," said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice's Civil Division, in a statement. "Improper inducements have no place in our federal healthcare system, which depends on physicians making decisions based on the healthcare needs of their patients and not on or influenced by personal financial considerations."
Mallinckrodt and AlixPartners declined to comment, while a representative for Latham didn't respond to a request for comment, according to the Bloomberg report.
Read more about the Mallinckrodt situation in the Bloomberg report.