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You can add Novartis (NVS) to the list of drug makers settling allegations that donations made to patient charities amounted to kickbacks paid to Medicare patients as a way to cover their out-of-pocket costs.

The company reached an agreement in principle to pay $23 million in response to a probe opened three years ago by the U.S. Attorney in Boston regarding assistance provided to Medicare patients who were prescribed various medicines, including the Gleevec cancer medicine and the Gilenya multiple sclerosis treatment, according to its latest annual report. The settlement was not previously disclosed.


There was no indication whether the drug maker acknowledged any wrongdoing. A Novartis spokesman called the agreement a “mutually acceptable resolution.” He added that “independent co-pay foundations are legitimate charitable foundations that help patients cover out-of-pockets costs associated with their care.” Guidance from the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “makes clear that it is legally acceptable” for drug makers to “contribute to independent, bona fide charitable assistance programs.”

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  • Would be helpful to understand how exactly these pharma companies did something wrong. The fact is that financial assistance for patients critical for the delivery of care. If the Federal government wants to control drug costs they should fix Medicare part D. It is my understanding that the federal government can not negotiate drug prices with PHARMA companies . They should fix this as opposed to harming patients who can not afford copays that oncology patients frequently are more than 1,000 dollars per month. If the FEDS want to shake down PHARMA companies they will turn around and simply increase the price of their drugs. This current move by the FEDS is irrational and end result injured patients

    Steve Mamus MD
    Cancer Center of Sarasota

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