May 18, 2024
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Settlement ends Amgen drug kickback saga


A drug kickback program is finally behind Amgen, the Thousand Oaks-based pharmaceutical giant.

Louisville, K.Y.-based PharMerica was the last of three companies to settle lawsuits relating to Amgen allegedly paying kickbacks to PharMerica and another company to prescribe patients the anemia drug Aranesp. PharMerica settled the suit for $2.5 million in December, Louisville Business First reported Jan. 6.

In April 2013, Amgen settled its own suit and paid the U.S. government $24.9 million. Consultant pharmacists often review nursing home patient charts and make prescription recommendations to nursing home physicians. In the scheme, Amgen allegedly paid consultant pharmacists PharMerica and Cincinnati-based Omnicare Inc. kickbacks in the form of performance-based rebates.

In exchange, participating nursing homes agreed to switch patients from a competing drug to Aranesp, the Justice Department said in 2013. Amgen also encouraged nursing homes to prescribe Aranesp to patients for unapproved uses.

Omnicare Inc. settled its suit in the case for $4.19 million. In all, the U.S. government collected about $31.5 million from the three companies.

All three companies settled after being cited in the U.S. Ex rel Kurnik v. Amgen. In the suit, claims were brought under the whistleblower provision of the federal False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue companies on behalf of the United States.

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