Sanofi (SNY) has agreed to pay nearly $11.9 million to resolve allegations that donations paid to a charity were actually kickbacks to Medicare patients used to cover out-of-pockets costs for the Lemtrada multiple sclerosis treatment.
This is only the latest instance in which the feds have cracked down on such arrangements between drug makers and patient assistance charities. Over the past two years, some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry — including Pfizer (PFE), a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) unit, Biogen (BIIB), Amgen (AMGN), and Novartis (NVS) — have reached similar agreements, as have several charities.
At issue is a federal law known as the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits pharmaceutical companies from offering or paying, directly or indirectly, any remuneration — which includes money or anything else of value — to induce Medicare or other federal programs to purchase their medicines. The feds, however, contend drug makers and charities have often worked together to boost prescriptions.