Pfizer to pay $23.85 million to resolve US kickbacks case

Henrietta Strickland
May 27, 2018

Pfizer gave more than $10 million to a charity for heart patients while dramatically increasing the price of one of its antiarrhythmic drugs, deflecting costs from patients and leaving Medicare with a bigger bill, the U.S. Justice Department said in a May 24 settlement statement.

"Kickbacks undermine the independence of physician and patient decision-making, and raise healthcare costs", said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department's Civil Division. "According to the allegations in today's settlement agreement, Pfizer knew that the third-party foundation was using Pfizer's money to cover the co-pays of patients taking Pfizer drugs, thus generating more revenue for Pfizer and masking the effect of Pfizer's price increases".

The company also signed a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Drug companies are barred from subsidizing copayments for patients enrolled in Medicare, but may donate to independent nonprofits that provide such assistance.

Pfizer allegedly worked with a third-party specialty pharmacy to move patients taking its renal cell carcinoma medicines Sutent and Inlyta to the foundation, rather than provide the drugs free to eligible patients. States Worry About Association Health Plans Association health plans that the Trump administration is promoting as a cheaper alternative to Affordable Care Act health plans could become targets for scam artists. "We are not aware of any allegation of wrongdoing by ACS", a CVS spokesman said.

The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pfizer isn't really the very first business to be implicated of contributing to a prohibited charity to increase its own revenues, United Rehab Court paid $210 million in July 2017 to settle comparable claims.

On May 8, Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc said it would pay US$57 million in another accord.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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