Purdue Pharma reportedly unnamed opioid company in Practice Fusion kickback probe

Purdue Pharma has been identified as the unnamed company referenced in criminal charging documents released this week in an opioid kickback probe involving EHR vendor Practice Fusion, according to a Jan. 28 Reuters report.

Purdue Pharma is the large opioid company referred to as "Pharma Co. X." in documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Vermont, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, which was first to report the news. Purdue Pharma was not criminally charged in the case.

Practice Fusion admitted to adding clinical decision support alerts in its software to increase opioid prescriptions. The vendor would receive "sponsorship payments" from pharmaceutical companies, which influenced the development and implementation of the CDS alerts. Healthcare providers that used the EHR software wrote prescriptions based on the CDS alerts between 2014 and 2019. 

Practice Fusion allegedly received an estimated $1 million illegal kickback from Purdue Pharma, according to the report. The opioid company sponsored the creation of a CDS alert that prompted physicians to write prescriptions for additional extended release opioids.

"As Purdue Pharma has previously stated, the company is cooperating with investigative demands by various components of the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with criminal and civil investigations of the company," Purdue Pharma said in a statement to Reuters. The company reportedly had no further comments.

Purdue Pharma is involved in lawsuits filed in more than 2,600 cities, counties and states for the company's role in the nationwide opioid epidemic, according to the report.

Practice Fusion agreed to pay $145 million to settle criminal and civil investigations, including $26 million in criminal fines and forfeiture. The payment also includes $118.6 million in separate civil settlements, including 13 other CDS arrangements with pharmaceutical companies.

Allscripts acquired Practice Fusion in 2018 for $100 million. The company in August said that Practice Fusion's actions occurred prior to Allscripts' ownership.

"As a company, we are committed to maintaining the highest levels of professionalism and integrity, and since learning of this matter we have further strengthened Practice Fusion's compliance program," said Brian Farley, Allscripts executive vice president, general counsel and chief administrative officer.

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