AstraZeneca pays $7.9 Million to settle kickback case

According to the Department of Justice, AstraZeneca LP, a pharmaceutical manufacturer based in Delaware, has agreed to pay the government $7.9 million to settle allegations that it engaged in a kickback scheme in violation of the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today.  AstraZeneca markets and sells pharmaceutical products in the United States, including a drug sold under the trade name Nexium.

The settlement resolves allegations that AstraZeneca agreed to provide payments to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager, in exchange for Medco maintaining Nexium’s “sole and exclusive” status on certain Medco formularies and through other marketing activities related to those Medco formularies.  The United States alleged that AstraZeneca provided some or all of the remuneration to Medco through price concessions on drugs other than Nexium, namely on Prilosec, Toprol XL and Plendil.  The United States contended that this kickback arrangement between AstraZeneca and Medco violated the Federal Anti-Kickback statute, and thereby caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims for Nexium to the Retiree Drug Subsidy Program.

This civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens with knowledge of false claims to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.  The lawsuit was filed by former AstraZeneca employees Paul DiMattia and F. Folger Tuggle, who will collectively receive $1,422,000.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers. He did not represent the whistleblowers mentioned in this case.