Patient charity to pay $4M to settle kickback allegations

An Orlando, Fla.-based patient assistance charity agreed Nov. 20 to pay $4 million to settle allegations it helped three drugmakers pay kickbacks to Medicare patients taking multiple sclerosis drugs.

The Assistance Fund says its mission is to help patients manage copays, coinsurance, deductibles and other expenses related to their chronic conditions. However, the government alleges the charity conspired with Teva Pharmaceuticals, Biogen and Novartis to give money donated by the drugmakers to patients taking their MS drugs. That way, the drugmakers could ensure patients took their drugs instead of their competitors medication.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits drugmakers from directly or indirectly offering patients money or other valuables to entice them to buy drugs.

As part of the settlement, the Assistance Fund entered into a three-year Integrity Agreement with HHS to ensure it follows the law.

The Assistance Fund is the third patient charity to settle kickback allegations in the past month, as the Chronic Disease Foundation and Patient Access Network paid a combined $6 million to settle similar claims.

This year, eight drugmakers paid more than $840 million to settle allegations that they used third-party foundations to enable kickbacks. The companies are United Therapeutics, Pfizer, Actelion, Jazz, Lundbeck, Alexion, Astellas and Amgen.

Read the full news release here.

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