Biogen agrees to pay $22m to settle kickback allegations

pharmafile | December 18, 2020 | News story | Medical Communications Biogen, multiple sclerosis 

Biogen has agreed to pay $22 million to put an end to an investigation into claims that it illegally used two charitable funds to offer kickbacks to patients using its multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs.

The deal was made to “resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act”, after federal prosecutors accused the US company of illegally paying insurance co-payments to patients on its MS drugs Avonex and Tysabri, in order to collect Medicare revenue. Under the federal “Anti-Kickback Statute”, drug companies are prohibited from paying anything influence Medicare patients to purchase their medicines.

Advanced Care Scripts, a specialty pharmacy that allegedly assisted Biogen in using the charities to pay kickbacks, has also paid $1.4 million in settlements to close the case.

First Assistant US Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said in a statement: “Biogen coordinated with ACS to game the system, time its payments, and direct its money to cover co-pay costs for patients using its drugs.”

The US government alleged that Biogen and the pharmacy used the Chronic Disease Fund and The Assistance Fund as a means of providing the kickbacks; both charities last year paid $2 million and $4 million respectively to resolve similar allegations.

Joseph R Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said: “Biogen tried to unfairly boost its bottom line by working with Advanced Care Scripts to bill Medicare for those who were already receiving their drug for free, undermining Medicare’s co-pay structure which was set up to safeguard against inflated drug prices.

“Kickback schemes like this one undermine our healthcare system, can compromise medical decisions, and waste taxpayer dollars. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to hold accountable those who conspire to disguise kickbacks as charitable contributions, at the expense of the Medicare programme.”

Both Biogen and ACS have denied any wrongdoing.

Darcy Jimenez

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