JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has joined a multistate settlement with a pharmaceutical company that allegedly engaged in kickback violations and defrauded Medicaid.
Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc., allegedly used off-label marketing of its cholesterol treatment drugs Advicor and Niaspan, which resulted in increased sales of these drugs to Missourians, including those covered by the Medicaid program. The drugs were used to treat low levels of HDL.
Koster alleged that in the period of January 2001 through December 2006, the company offered and paid for free travel, grants, honoraria and other valuable goods and services to health professionals in an effort to have them prescribe or recommend its products.
Kos Pharmaceuticals also allegedly promoted Advicor for use as first-line therapy for cholesterol treatment, even though the Food and Drug Administration did not approve it for that purpose.
Kos was purchased by Abbott Laboratories in December 2006 and the new company took steps to correct the offending conduct, Koster says.
"One of my top priorities as attorney general is to go after companies that cheat Missouri taxpayers through Medicaid fraud," Koster said.
"This settlement is a significant amount of money to be returned to taxpayers and should serve as notice to pharmaceutical companies that the attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Unit will continue to hold them accountable."
Under terms of the settlement, Kos will pay the Missouri Medicaid program $226,838. That money will be allocated to the state and federal government based on their joint funding of the program.
Kos also promised that if it started marketing efforts regarding Advicor and Niaspan again, it will do so in compliance with applicable law.