Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Teva Neuroscience and Teva Sales and Marketing have agreed to pay $54 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that Teva paid physicians to consult or speak at events, some of which were “shams,” when the payments actually were inducements for them to prescribe the Parkinson’s drug rasagiline (Azilect) and the multiple sclerosis drug glatiramer (Copaxone) and influence other prescribers.

“This settlement helps ensure that when a physician chooses a prescription drug for his or her patient, that choice will be motivated solely by the best interests of the patient and not tainted by any improper financial considerations,” Eric Young, managing partner of McEldrew Young, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs, said in an announcement of the settlement. Teva has not commented.

The lawsuit originally was brought in 2013 by Charles Arnstein and Hossam Senousy, two former sales representatives for the drug company, who alleged that the bogus payments began in 2003.

According to the complaint, physicians who participated in the alleged sham speaker programs wrote prescriptions for the two medications that then were filled at pharmacies across the country. The pharmacies reportedly submitted reimbursement claims to various government-funded healthcare programs, resulting in payments for prescriptions that allegedly were induced through fraud.

The complaint also alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits a pharmaceutical manufacturer from offering remuneration to induce a physician to prescribe, or a patient covered by a federal healthcare program to purchase, the manufacturer’s drugs.