AstraZeneca Shells Out $7.9 Million to Settle Kickback Charges
AstraZeneca will pay $7.9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it paid a pharmacy benefit manager to include its blockbuster heartburn drug Nexium on some formularies at the exclusion of other heartburn medications.
The Department of Justice claims that AZ provided kickbacks to Medco Health Solutions in the form of price concessions on drugs other than Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium) in violation of the False Claims Act. Those drugs included Prilosec (omeprazole), Toprol XL (metoprolol succinate) and Plendil (felodipine).
The scheme resulted in fraudulent claims being submitted for Nexium to Medicare’s Retiree Drug Subsidy program, DOJ says.
Word of the inquiry first surfaced in SEC filings from AZ and Medco in 2011. AstraZeneca continues to deny the allegations, saying it settled only to resolve the matter and move forward.
A pair of former AZ employees who sued the company under whistleblower provisions will receive $1.4 million of the settlement, DOJ said. — Bryan Koenig