District of South Carolina
In a major whistleblower settlement, G&E, working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina, reached an agreement with Amgen in which the drug giant paid $24.9 million to resolve claims that it paid kickbacks to long-term care pharmacies so that elderly patients in nursing homes across the nation would be switched to or placed on the company’s drug, Aranesp. The drug, one of several Erythropoetin stimulating agents (ESAs) on the market, was developed to treat patients with severe anemia whose lives were endangered from receiving frequent blood transfusions. The settlement with the government speaks to the stunning breadth of Amgen’s alleged conduct from September 1, 2003 to December 31, 2011. Specifically, the U.S. alleged that Amgen offered and paid kickbacks to long-term care pharmacy providers for the purpose of inducing them to recommend Aranesp and influence health care providers’ selection and utilization of the drug within the nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care settings. These kickbacks were paid by Amgen as purported market-share rebates, purported volume-based rebates, grants, honoraria, speaker fees, consulting services, dinners, travel, or purchases of unnecessary data.