States, feds settle Rebif suit

Bryan Cohen May 9, 2011, 3:52pm


WASHINGTON D.C. (Legal Newsline) - Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper announced on Monday that Tennessee, other states and the federal government have reached an agreement in principle with a pharmaceutical manufacturer over allegedly false Medicaid claims.

EMD Serono Inc. allegedly caused false or fraudulent claims for Rebif to be submitted to the Medicaid program. Rebif is a multiple sclerosis medication classified as an interferon beta-1a drug that is used for relapsing MS. The drug is used to slow down development of physical disability and reduce the number of flare ups.

Under terms of the settlement, EMD Serono will pay the participating states and the federal government $44.3 million, plus interest, with the Medicaid programs receiving approximately $19 million of the total settlement. Tennessee will receive $518,317 of the settlement.

EMD Serono allegedly offered and paid remuneration to healthcare professionals for activities like attending speaker training, educational grants, promotional speaking engagements, advisory and consultant meetings, and charitable contributions between March 2002 and December 2009. One alleged purpose purpose of these payments was to induce the professionals involved to prescribe Rebif.

"No one should have to worry about whether the drug their doctor is prescribing is the result of a drug company's kickback to the doctor," Cooper said. "We will aggressively pursue those companies breaking the law and the trust of Tennesseans."

The settlement follows a private plaintiff's filing of a qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

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