Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp may have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors in the Triangle due to what the US government says was a kickback scheme.

The US Justice Department claims Novartis held “sham” educational events at which no education took place. Instead the government claims that doctors received dinners at expensive restaurants, fishing trips, or payments for events that never occurred. It alleges the same guests were invited over and over to restaurants ranging from Hooters to high-end spots where the company spent up to $10,000 for meals.

In some cases, events did not happen at all but doctors received the same payments as if they had.

In 2014, Novartis made payments to doctors in the Triangle alone that totaled almost $250,000.

If the events Novartis sponsored are indeed ruled kickbacks, the company could be liable for penalties under the false claims act.

Novartis agreed to pay $390 million to settle around of kickback allegations last year. Those according to the government were in the form of discounts and rebates intended to stimulate more of its drugs in pharmacies.

The lawsuit also alleges that the doctors did increase prescriptions of the drugs involved which included various cardiovascular medications such as Lotrel and Valtima and the diabetes drug*Starfix

in 2010, Novartis payday $422 million kickback settlement. In that case the government alleged Novartis offered kickbacks to doctors to boost use of its blood pressure medicines.

Novartis pharmaceuticals is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), based in Basel, Switzerland.