3 drugmakers pay nearly $123M to settle kickback claims

Three drugmakers — Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck and Alexion Pharmaceuticals — have agreed to pay $122.6 million to resolve allegations of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute by illegally using copay assistance programs.

The Justice Department accused the drugmakers of offering or paying money to entice health plan beneficiaries to buy their drugs.

"Pharmaceutical companies undercut a key safeguard against rising drug costs when they create assistance funds to serve as conduits for the companies to subsidize the copays of their own drugs," said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. "These enforcement actions make clear that the government will hold accountable drug companies that directly or indirectly pay illegal kickbacks."

Federal prosecutors are more aggressively pursuing drugmakers for donating to programs that provide patients with free medication or copay assistance. Most recently, Novartis paid $23 million to settle claims it used charities to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients to cover their out-of-pocket costs. Alexion Pharmaceuticals also disclosed it paid $13 million to resolve claims concerning payments to patient organizations.

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