AGs sue Amgen over alleged kickback scheme

Andrew Cuomo (D)

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline)--Amgen Inc. was sued on Friday by more than a dozen state attorneys general for allegedly offering kickbacks to doctors in an effort to boost sales of its anemia drug, Aranesp.

The lawsuit by 14 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia, was filed in U.S. District Court in New York. The lawsuit was announced Friday by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, whose office investigated the alleged scheme.

Among other things, Cuomo said South San Francisco, Calif.-based Amgen encouraged medical providers to bill third party payers, such as Medicaid, for Aranesp that was provided to them at no cost.

"In an egregious violation of the law, Amgen allegedly bribed medical providers and left taxpayers footing the bill for free drug samples," Cuomo said.

Other defendants in the case include International Nephrology Network and wholesaler ASD Healthcare.

The lawsuit said Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company, conspired with INN and ASD Healthcare to provide sham consultant agreements and weekend retreats to get doctors to prescribe Aranesp.

"We believe that the allegations are without merit, and we look forward to the opportunity to examine these matters with the states before the Court," Amgen said in a statement.

In addition to New York and the District of Columbia, other states involved in the lawsuit are: California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee and Virginia.

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