|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today that New Jersey will receive approximately $425,000 as part of a global settlement resolving civil allegations that Omnicare, Inc., violated federal and state laws by receiving illegal kickbacks in exchange for inducing doctors to prescribe a certain nephrology drug.
Based in Cincinnati, Omnicare describes itself as a comprehensive provider of pharmacy and related services to elder care and other specialized health care facilities.
The company allegedly solicited and received kickbacks from Amgen, Inc., in exchange for inducing doctors to prescribe an Amgen-manufactured drug, Aranesp, for nephrology patients who previously had been treated with a competitor drug called Procrit.
Omnicare allegedly solicited and received kickbacks from Amgen in the form of discounts, market-share rebates, grants, honoraria, speaking fees, dinners, travel, and other incentives. These kickbacks allegedly were solicited and received in exchange for influencing health care providers to prescribe Aranesp within long-term care settings, and also for implementing “Therapeutic Interchange” -- also known as a “switching” -- intended to identify patients who were taking a rival drug, and to have those patients switched to Aranesp.
New Jersey, the federal government and other participating states alleged that, as a result of this conduct, Omnicare, Inc. knowingly caused false and/or fraudulent claims for Aranesp to be submitted to the State’s Medicaid Program.
“Every dollar lost to alleged Medicaid fraud is one less dollar available to help some of the most vulnerable citizens of our state. We are committed to combating Medicaid abuses, and to making certain those who engage in such conduct are held accountable,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman.
Under the global settlement announced today, Omnicare will pay the federal government and all participating states a total of $3.8 million. The allegations against Omnicare included alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, and New Jersey’s False Claims Act, as well as similar statutes in other states.
The Omnicare settlement flows from a federal qui tam or “whistleblower” lawsuit alleging that the company engaged in allegedly illegal marketing practices between September 1, 2003 and June 30, 2005.
The whistleblower case, captioned as Frank Kurnik v. Amgen, Inc., et al. , is filed with the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.
Previously, the participating states and the federal government resolved related allegations against California-based Amgen through a settlement finalized in 2013. Under that settlement, Amgen paid New Jersey a total of $327,038.