NC recovers nearly $2 million from drug company, AG Cooper announces
Release date: 10/26/2012
Pharmaceutical settlement the latest in crackdown on health care fraud
Raleigh: North Carolina, along with the federal government and other states, has reached an agreement in principle with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals to resolve allegations that the company offered kickbacks and improperly marketed its drugs, resulting in false claims to the Medicaid programs, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“We’re committed to rooting out health care fraud and waste in order keep costs down for everyone,” Cooper said. “We’ve ramped up our efforts and will continue to go after companies that don’t play by the rules.”
Cooper and the other states contend that Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BIPI) engaged in off-label marketing campaigns that improperly promoted four drugs: Atrovent, Combivent, Micardis and Aggrenox for uses that were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective.
For example, the drug Aggrenox was promoted for certain cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease; Combivent for use prior to another bronchodilator in treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; and Micardis for treatment of early diabetic kidney disease. This resulted in false claims to Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded health care programs.
BIPI will pay the states and the federal government $95 million dollars, of which $34.4 million will go to the Medicaid programs. The North Carolina Medicaid program will receive approximately $1,961,979.13.
The settlement also resolves allegations that BIPI promoted the sale and usage of Combivent and Atrovent at doses that exceeded those covered by federal health care programs and that BIPI knowingly made unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of Aggrenox, including that it was superior to Plavix. The states also claim that BIPI paid illegal compensation to health care professionals to get them to prescribe the drugs.
As a condition of the settlement, BIPI will enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, which will closely monitor the company’s future marketing and sales practices.
This investigation resulted from a whistleblower action originally filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) Team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with BIPI on behalf of the states. North Carolina’s share of the settlement was reached by Cooper’s Medicaid Investigations Division (MID) and the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance.
The MID investigates fraud and abuse of Medicaid benefits by hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies, mental health and personal care providers, ambulance services and others. The division also investigates patient abuse and neglect in nursing homes and other facilities that receive Medicaid funds. The unit includes attorneys, investigators and State Bureau of Investigation agents who work closely with United States Attorneys, District Attorneys, and other state and federal law enforcement agencies. The MID has recouped nearly $500 million over the past decade and helped to convict hundreds of individuals on criminal charges.
Contact: Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413