Bryan Cohen Jul. 22, 2014, 7:00pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday that North Carolina will share in a $7.3 million multi-state settlement with Astellas Pharma to resolve allegations of Medicaid fraud.

Astellas Pharma allegedly marketed the antibiotic Mycamine for use in children from 2005 to 2010, when it was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fungal infections in adult patients.

When the FDA approves a drug for a specific use, the manufacturer cannot engage in off-label marketing, which occurs when a drug is marketed for an unapproved use.

"Pushing drugs for unapproved uses cheats patients and taxpayers," Cooper said. "We're going after these shady marketing schemes to ensure your tax dollars are going to good use."

Astellas Pharma's practices allegedly resulted in the submission of false claims to federal and state health-care programs like Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides the poor with health insurance.

North Carolina's share of the $7.3 million settlement is $165,528.55, which includes civil penalties for public schools and funds for state Medicaid efforts.

Cooper's Medicaid Investigations Division looks into fraud and abuse by doctors, hospitals, mental health-care providers and pharmaceutical companies. In the past decade, the division has recovered more than $500 million and helped to convict hundreds of individuals on criminal charges.

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