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A unit of Sun Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay nearly $21 million to settle allegations of providing false instructions to doctors for a skin treatment and, in turn, causing federal health care programs such as Medicare to overpay for the medication.

At issue is a product called Levulan Kerastick, an ointment for treating  actinic keratoses that is used in conjunction with an illuminated blue light. Clinical trials indicated the treatment required 14 to 18 hours of incubation. But Dusa Pharmaceuticals, which Sun acquired in 2012, encouraged doctors to use incubation periods of just one to three hours, resulting in far lower rates for resolving scaly skin patches, according to the Department of Justice.


As part of the plan, the drug maker failed to tell doctors that administering shorter incubations resulted in those lower rates and sometimes maintained that clearance rates were the same for shorter and longer incubation periods. At the same time, the company enticed doctors with paid speaker programs while providing incomplete or misleading responses to their questions.

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