Other big name pharmaceutical companies have also been subject to fines for using a charity to help Medicare patients pay for out-of-pocket drug costs. News on the industry is on an $8M penalty against Cardinal Health, the high cost of extended release drugs, and claims made by a fired Novartis worker over her allegations about a new eye treatment.
Stat: Sanofi To Pay Nearly $12m For Illegally Using A Charity To Pay Patients
Sanofi (SNY) has agreed to pay nearly $11.9 million to resolve allegations that donations paid to a charity were actually kickbacks to Medicare patients used to cover out-of-pockets costs for the Lemtrada multiple sclerosis treatment. This is only the latest instance in which the feds have cracked down on such arrangements between drug makers and patient assistance charities. Over the past two years, some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry — including Pfizer (PFE), a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) unit, Biogen (BIIB), Amgen (AMGN), and Novartis (NVS) — have reached similar agreements, as have several charities. (Silverman, 2/28)
Reuters: Sanofi To Pay $11.9 Million To Resolve U.S. Drug Charity Kickback Probe
Sanofi did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The drugmaker in a statement defended the practice of providing financial support to such charitable organizations, saying it “believes these programs help patients lead healthier lives.” Drug companies are prohibited from subsidizing co-payments for patients enrolled in the government’s Medicare healthcare program for those aged 65 and older. Companies may donate to non-profits providing co-pay assistance as long as they are independent. (2/28)
Stat: Cardinal Health To Pay $8 Million For Failing To Prevent Bribes Paid In China
Cardinal Health (CAH), one of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers, agreed to pay more than $8 million to resolve charges that a former Chinese subsidiary failed to detect bribes that were paid to government hospital officials and employees of state-owned companies to purchase skincare products. Between 2010 and 2016, Cardinal China acted as the exclusive distributor in the Chinese market for a large European company and, and as part of the agreement, oversaw a marketing agreement that involved retaining about 2,400 of its employees to call on state-owned hospitals and retailers. Some of these employees directed payments to key purchasing officials while the subsidiary received a share of the profits from the sale of over-the-counter “dermocosmetic” products. (Silverman, 2/28)
Reuters: Extended-Release Drugs Could Be Costing U.S. Healthcare System Billions
If doctors prescribed short-acting medications that must be taken twice a day instead of once-a-day extended-release versions, billions in healthcare costs could be saved, a new study suggests. Based on Medicare and Medicaid spending between 2012 and 2017, prescriptions for extended-release drugs cost the healthcare system almost $14 billion more than would have been spent on equivalent twice-a-day medications, researchers report in JAMA Network Open. (2/29)
Stat: Novartis Employee Claims She Was Fired For Flagging Incorrect Data
As Novartis (NVS) geared up to win approval for a new eye medication that was pegged to become a blockbuster, an employee tried to push the company to disclose incorrect safety data and claims she was fired for her trouble. And at the heart of the dispute is the same drug about which a leading association of eye physicians raised serious safety concerns to its members earlier this week. (Silverman, 2/28)
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