New York’s Medicaid program will receive $3.1 million of a $95 million national settlement with a pharmaceutical company to resolve charges of kickbacks and off-label use of several drugs, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today. Medicaid is a health-care program for poor and disabled New Yorkers.
Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals is making the settlement regarding the drugs Aggrenox, Atrovent, Combivent and Micardis. New York, along with the federal government, alleged that the pharmaceutical company unlawfully marketed the drugs for uses that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They also charged Boehringer-Ingelheim made false statements about cost effectiveness for Atrovent and offered kickbacks to medical professionals.
“There are no excuses for deceptively marketing unapproved drugs, offering kickbacks to health care professionals and ripping off taxpayers by defrauding Medicaid and other programs,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “With this settlement, we continue our message to Boehringer-Ingelheim and other big pharmaceutical companies: you are not above the law.”
One of the charges was the company offered and provided services and other things of value to health-care professionals to encourage them to promote and prescribe the drugs. Kickbacks included payment for participating in advisory boards, speakers’ training programs and consultant programs.
Boehringer-Ingelheim was also charged with:
— Marketing Aggrenox, which reduces the risk of stroke by preventing blood clotting, for off-label uses in cases of myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease and made false statements to the state Medicaid program that it is superior to Plavix.
— Making misrepresentations to the Medicaid program on the cost-effectiveness of Atrovent versus competitors’ drugs and marketed the drug at doses above what the FDA approved.
— Marketing Combivent for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and promoted the sale and use of it at dosages above what the Medicaid program covered. The FDA approved the drug for COPD patients on a regular aerosol bronchodilator who require a second bronchodilator.
— Marketing Micardis for unapproved uses, such as treating early diabetic kidney disease. It is approved to treat hypertension.