Drug companies set to pay Montana over Antipsychotic Abilify


Billings Gazette

HELENA – The state of Montana has received about $295,000 as part of a national settlement with a pharmaceutical company and its former subsidiary to resolve complaints of illegal drug marketing and pricing of prescription drugs paid by state Medicaid programs.

It is a part of a $389 million national settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and its former subsidiary, Apothecon Inc.

The lawsuit was filed by 43 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government. Montana has been part of the lawsuit since 1995, said Judy Beck, a spokeswoman for the state Justice Department.

Montana’s $295,091 will go to the state Medicaid program run by the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, Beck said. Medicaid is the federal-state program that pays medical bills for the poor.

The settlement addresses allegations that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in some improper marketing and pricing practices, including:

• Reporting inflated prices for some prescription drugs, knowing that Medicaid and various federal health care programs would use these prices to buy drugs from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon.

• Illegally paying physicians, health care providers and pharmacies to induce them to buy these products.

• Promoting the sale and use of Abilify, an antipsychotic drug, for children and for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved these uses.

• Misreporting sales for an antidepressant called Serzone, which led to improper reduction of the amount of rebates paid to state Medicaid programs.

In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb signed a corporate integrity agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, requiring the company to accurately report its average sales prices and average manufacturers’ prices in the future.

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