AstraZeneca Kickback Case Settled for $7.9 Million


AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, will pay $7.9 million to the government to settle charges that it engaged in a kickback scheme for its drug, Nexium. AstraZeneca allegedly paid the kickbacks to increase profits and to submit fraudulent claims for Nexium to the Retiree Drug Subsidy Program. Two former AstraZeneca employees, Paul DiMattia and F. Folger Tuggle, presented the allegation in a lawsuit against the company and will collectively receive $1,422,000.

AstraZeneca paid Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager, in exchange for Medco maintaining Nexium's status on Medco formularies and other marketing activities. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that AstraZeneca provided the compensation for Nexium through payments on their other drugs: Prilosec, Toprol XL, and Plendil.

The arrangement between AstraZeneca and Medco violated the Anti-Kickback statute. Joyce R. Branda, Acting Assistant Attorney General, stated, "Hidden financial agreements between drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers can improperly influence which drugs are available to patients and the price of drugs."

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