A national health care company will pay $60 million to settle a lawsuit that it received kickbacks from a pharmaceutical business for recommending a drug to Medicaid patients, said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday.
Accredo Health Group was accused of recommending the drug Exjade to Medicaid patients, and in return received the kickbacks from Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. Schneiderman said the $60 million will go to the federal government, New York state and other states. He added about $3.4 million will go the New York's Medicaid program to settle some claims.
"Patients have a right to unbiased information from their pharmacy about their medications,” Schneiderman said. "Drug companies cannot pay pharmacies to promote drugs directly to patients.”
Another pharmacy, BioScrip, settled a similar lawsuit involving Novartis in January 2014, and paid $15 million. Schneiderman said the case against Novartis continues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Exjade in 2005, and Novartis, the company that launched the drug, created a closed distribution network. Novartis controlled the pharmacies that distributed the drug, and gave kickbacks to pharmacies that kept patients on Exjade the longest.
Schneiderman said in his complaint against Novartis that many patients would stop taking the drug due to its side effects, which led the company to create the scheme.