WASHINGTON, D.C. — A San Francisco pharmaceutical company accused by the federal government of giving kickbacks to Medicare patients using its hypertension drugs has agreed to a $360 million settlement.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Actelion Pharmaceuticals US Inc., allegedly paid thousands of Medicare patient's copays using donations from a "foundation." Actelion used the foundation to refer Medicare patients who could not afford certain drugs to cover copays with claims being filed with Medicare for any additional costs, the DOJ said.
“This settlement, like prior settlements concerning similar misconduct, makes clear that the government will hold accountable companies that pay illegal kickbacks,” DOJ Civil Division assistant attorney general Jody Hunt said in a statement. “Pharmaceutical companies cannot increase drug prices while engaging in conduct designed to defeat mechanisms put in place to check such prices and then expect Medicare to pay for the ballooning costs."
“Kickback schemes can undermine our health care system, compromise medical decisions, and waste taxpayer dollars,” added Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services' Boston Regional Office special agent in charge Phillip Coyne. “We will continue to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for subverting the charitable donation process in order to circumvent safeguards designed to protect the integrity of the Medicare program.”
Actelion's alleged actions took place in 2014 through 2015, and the company has since been acquired by Johnson & Johnson, according to the DOJ.