Pharmacy Settles Lawsuit Over Big Pharma Kickbacks

A pharmacy in Kentucky will pay $9.25 million to settle claims that it received money from Abbott for promoting a drug to nursing home patients.

A pharmacy in Kentucky will pay $9.25 million to settle claims that it received money from Abbott for promoting a drug to nursing home patients.

PharMerica, the nation’s second-largest nursing home pharmacy, allegedly recommended that physicians prescribe the anticonvulsant Depakote in exchange for kickbacks from Abbott, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

“We owe nothing less in fulfilling our duty to ensure that nursing home residents are provided with the appropriate drugs based upon their needs rather than the business interests of the companies providing the drugs,” stated US Attorney Anthony P. Giorno in a press release.

The DOJ noted that nursing homes rely on consultant pharmacists to review their patients’ medical charts and provide recommendations to physicians about what could potentially be prescribed.

The federal government claimed that the kickbacks PharMerica received were passed off as rebates, educational grants, and other financial support.

About $6.75 million of the settlement will go to the US government, while the remaining $2.5 million will furnish the Medicaid program claims by states that elect to participate in the settlement, according to the DOJ press release.

This isn’t the first time Abbott has run into trouble with Depakote promotions. According to the Associated Press, the manufacturer pleaded guilty and paid $1.5 billion over claims that it had promoted the drug for patients with dementia and autism, which are not FDA-approved uses.

“Elderly nursing home residents suffering from dementia have little control over the medications they receive and depend on the unbiased judgment of health care professionals for their daily care,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the US Justice Department’s Civil Division, in a press release. “Kickbacks to entities making drug recommendations compromise their independence and undermine their role in protecting nursing home residents from the use of unnecessary drugs.”