Drug manufacturers agree with Justice Department after claiming to have manipulated Medicare program


Three drug companies reached an agreement with the Department of Justice for a total of $ 122.6 million, alleging that they had violated a federal law prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from paying copays for Medicare patients , have prescribed their treatments, announced the agency Thursday.

When purchasing medications, people enrolled in the Medicare program are sometimes required to pay fees, including copays. Congress passed the False Claims Act to prevent drug companies from significantly increasing the price of medical treatments or games. Medicare strengthens sales by preventing these companies from paying these costs.

Yet the practice continues. The Department of Justice has alleged that Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck LLC and Alexion Pharmaceuticals have broken the law by appealing to independent patient assistance foundations to pay Medicare for these fees.

"This misconduct is widespread and prosecutions will continue until pharmaceutical companies stop circumventing anti-bribery laws to artificially support high drug prices, all at the expense of US taxpayers." said American lawyer Andrew Lelling in a statement.


As part of the settlement, Jazz and Lundbeck have each agreed on five-year agreements that require companies to ensure that patient assistance programs that could receive cash from drugs work independently.

The Justice Department said that Alexion had already made "deep and fundamental organizational changes," according to Gregory Demske, chief counsel of the agency's inspector general.

"The changes included hiring a new eight-member management team and replacing half of its board members. In addition, 40% of Alexion's employees are new and the company has moved its headquarters, "he said in a statement.

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In 2011, Jazz reportedly asked an external foundation to create a special fund to pay the contributions of Medicare patients who had been prescribed Narcolepsy Xyrem treatment. The company then barred some patients from enrolling in their free drug program, but referred them to the payment support group, increasing the sales of the Irish-based company.

"At the same time, Jazz has raised Xyrem's price by more than 150% from 2011 to the end of the reporting period," said MJ.

At Lundbeck – which manufactures Xenazine, the only drug approved to treat diseases associated with Huntington's disease – the agency said the Danish company had sent millions of dollars to a patient support foundation that was finally used to pay the co-payments of the treatment.


Alexion has faced similar claims related to Soliris, a rare blood disorder drug that costs about $ 500,000 a year. The company based in New Haven, Connecticut, reportedly asked a foundation that it had funded to cover expenses for patients taking Soliris.

"Alexion would have known that the price set for Soliris could be a barrier to patient purchases," said MJ.

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