The trusted source for
healthcare information and
Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.
Pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. will pay $23.85 million to settle False Claims Act (FCA) allegations that it induced Medicare patients to purchase its drugs via a “charitable foundation” that funded copays. Such an arrangement violates the Anti-Kickback Statute.
Instead of giving away free drugs to qualifying patients, Pfizer allegedly worked with a third-party pharmacy to funnel patients to the foundation (funded by Pfizer), which paid the copayments and filed for Medicare reimbursement.
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement, “Pfizer used a third party to saddle Medicare with extra costs. … Pfizer knew that the [foundation] was using Pfizer’s money to cover the copays of patients taking Pfizer drugs, thus generating more revenue for Pfizer and masking the effect of Pfizer’s price increases.”
The settlement is not an admission of guilt. In a press statement, Pfizer said the resolution is based on a “desire to put this legal matter behind it and focus on the needs of patients. The company believes all individuals deserve access to medicines prescribed by their physicians.”