Pharmaceutical Company Agrees to Pay $625 Million to Resolve Allegations that it engaged in a Fraudulent Prescription Drug Scheme
Placing profit over patient need is a surefire way to incur the righteous wrath of the US government. One company witnessed this earlier this week, when the Department of Justice announced that AmerisourceBergen Corporation (ABC) and several of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $625 million to resolve allegations that it improperly repacked and distributed oncology drugs to physicians treating cancer patients. ABC is a wholesale drug company that currently ranks number 11 on the Fortune 500 list. The drugs involved in ABC’s alleged repacking and distribution scheme are were Procrit®, Aloxi®, Kytril® and its generic form Granisetron, Anzemet® and Neupogen.® The settlement ABC agreed to pay resolves the company’s civil liability to the United States under the False Claims Act.
“The $885 million combined civil and criminal resolution with ABC underscores our determination to utilize all tools at our disposal to pursue illicit schemes that seek to profit from circumvention of important safeguards designed to protect the nation’s drug supply,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will continue to be particularly vigilant where these schemes put the health and safety of vulnerable patients at risk.”
The government alleged that ABC engaged in a prescription fraud scheme when its facilities improperly repackaged oncology-supportive injectable drugs into pre-filled syringes. Further, the United States contends that ABC’s facilities operated as a repackaging operation that shipped millions of these drugs to physicians to be used on their cancer-stricken patients. Moreover, the government alleges that the drugs ABC distributed through its facilities was prepared under non-sterile conditions and that the company did not submit documentation to ensure that their medications were safely packaged.
Finally, ABC is also alleged to have been involved in kickback scheme involving physicians who prescribed its Procrit® drug and that it re-billed the government for several of its medications. As a result of these activities, ABC is scheduled to pay $581,809,006 plus accrued interest to the federal government and $43,190,994 plus accrued interest to state Medicaid programs.
“Drug companies such as ABC that seek to boost profits at the expense of cancer patients unnecessarily put the health and safety of this vulnerable population at risk,” stated HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Lampert. “Greed must never be a part of medical decision making. HHS-OIG, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting patient quality of care, and this settlement should serve as a warning to drug companies that are tempted to shortchange patient well-being.”
The settlement reach earlier this week between ABC and the United Sates resolves allegations that arose from three separate qui tam or whistleblower actions. Under the False Claims Act, private parties may sue on behalf of the government for false claims and share in any recovery. Individuals who wish to do so can engage the services of a whistleblower law firm. A qui tam lawyer is knowledgeable in all areas of the False Claims Act. The whistleblowers in this case will share $93,089,441.