WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced May 24 that Pfizer Inc., a major pharmaceutical company in New York, will pay $23.85 million after allegations of a massive kickback scheme.
“Kickbacks undermine the independence of physician and patient decision-making, and raise healthcare costs,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division said in a statement. “As today’s settlement makes clear, the Department will hold accountable drug companies that pay illegal kickbacks—whether directly or indirectly—to undermine taxpayer-funded healthcare programs, including Medicare.”
Pfizer funneled money through a foundation to pay for Medicare patient co-pays for three Pfizer drugs, according to the Justice Department. Alleged conduct of this nature violates the False Claims Act.
“Pfizer used a third party to saddle Medicare with extra costs,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “According to the allegations in today’s settlement agreement, Pfizer knew that the third-party foundation was using Pfizer’s money to cover the co-pays of patients taking Pfizer drugs, thus generating more revenue for Pfizer and masking the effect of Pfizer’s price increases. The Anti-Kickback Statute exists to protect Medicare, and the taxpayers who fund it, from schemes like these. At the same time, we commend Pfizer for stepping forward to resolve these issues in a responsible manner.”