By Nate Raymond
BOSTON, Aug 13 (Reuters) – A Florida-based specialty pharmacy will pay $3.5 million to resolve allegations it served as a conduit for a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd subsidiary to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
The settlement with Advanced Care Scripts Inc was the latest to result from an industry-wide U.S. probe of drugmakers’ financial support of patient assistance charities that has resulted in nearly $921 million in settlements.
Representatives for Teva and ACS did not respond to requests for comment. Teva has said it has been cooperating with the investigation since first receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston in 2017.
Drug companies are prohibited from subsidizing co-payments for patients enrolled in the government’s Medicare healthcare program for those aged 65 and older. Companies may donate to non-profits providing co-pay assistance as long as they are independent.
But the government has alleged that various drugmakers have used such charities as means to improperly pay the co-pay obligations of Medicare patients using their drugs, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
According to the government, until 2015, ACS served as a vendor for Teva Neuroscience Inc and provided, among other things, benefits investigation services to patients who had been prescribed its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.
As part of the settlement, ACS acknowledged it relayed data to Teva from two foundations that helped cover the co-pay obligations for Medicare patients using Copaxone, so the drugmaker could correlate the payments it made to the charities.
Those charities were the Chronic Disease Fund, now known as Good Days, and the Assistance Fund. They previously resolved similar allegations with the government for $2 million and $4 million, respectively.
Neither admitted wrongdoing as part of those accords. The charities did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown)