Georgia gets $12M in drug company settlement


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By RHONDA COOK

Georgia has received almost $12.1 million for its Medicaid program — its share of a settlement Bristol-Myers Squibb reached with the federal government and 43 states for the questionable marketing and pricing of certain prescription drugs for the poor.

Georgia – the “peach state”

Bristol-Meyers Squibb and its former subsidiary, Apothecon Inc., agreed in September to pay a total of $499 million, according to a spokeswoman for the company. The payments to individual states, like Georgia’s Medicaid program, went out Tuesday.

“The allegations were that these companies not only engaged in a pattern of kickbacks and false reporting to drive up both the sales and prices for its drugs, they also encouraged health care providers to prescribe a potent drug to both children and seniors for uses that had not been approved by the FDA,” Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a prepared statement. “The drive to make certain that the bottom-line meets Wall Street expectations can never justify defrauding the taxpayers or putting our must vulnerable citizens at risk.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon were accused of reporting inflated prices to get higher reimbursements from government health care programs and of paying doctors, health care providers and pharmacies to push their products.

One medication at the center of the complaints was Abilify, an antipsychotic drug prescribed for children and for dementia-related psychosis. The federal Food and Drug Administration had not approved Abilify for those uses.

The drug company also was accused of misreporting prices for Serzone, an antidepressant, so consequently rebates to Medicaid were less.

Federal law requires pharmaceutical companies give their lowest prices to Medicaid programs and that was the basis of complaints that led to the settlement.

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