Feds, 30 states claim McKesson illegally repackaged cancer drugs to maximize profits: 5 things to know

The federal government and 30 states have sued pharmaceutical distributor McKesson, alleging the company violated the False Claims Act by illegally extracting excess cancer drugs from single-use vials and then repackaging and selling the drugs.

Here are five things to know about the lawsuit.

1. The lawsuit, which was filed April 4 and is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges McKesson extracted "overfill" from single-use vials of oncology drugs and then repackaged the drugs in bulk into non-sterile plastic syringes. The contents of single-use vials may be extracted only once because they do not contain preservatives or antiseptic chemicals to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.

2. McKesson allegedly sold the repackaged drugs to cancer centers, physicians and medical practices from 2001 until at least 2010. The healthcare providers would then seek reimbursement from government payers for the drugs.

3. McKesson "knowingly and intentionally put cancer patients and others with compromised immune systems at serious risk for infection, and defrauded federal, state, and local governments out of hundreds of millions of dollars," the lawsuit states.

4. AmerisourceBergen, one of McKesson's competitors, pleaded guilty last year to similar actions and has paid approximately $900 million in fines, according to Law360.

5. The lawsuit against McKesson was brought by Omni Healthcare, which received oncology drugs from McKesson, under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provision of the False Claims Act. The federal government, 30 states, Washington, D.C., and the cities of New York and Chicago joined Omni as plaintiffs. McKesson said it is currently reviewing the complaint. 

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