By Doug G. Ware
SALT LAKE CITY – A drug company has been forced to pay Utah more than $2 million stemming from a series of illegal actions it made, officials said.
Bristol-Myers Squibb recently reached a settlement over its illegal activities with 43 states, including Utah. In all, the drug company must pay $389 million to the states affected. Utah will get $2,169,933 of that amount.
According to authorities, the company orchestrated a series of illegal marketing and pricing schemes for its prescription drugs. For example, Bristol-Myers Squibb made illegal payments to physicians, health care providers and pharmacies to entice them to buy their products.
Also, officials say, the company reported inflated prices for its prescription drugs so Medicaid and other federal health care programs would have to pay more for the drugs.
“$2 million will go a long way to help care for people who rely on Medicaid,” said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. “Drug company chiefs should learn a lesson from Bristol-Myers Squibb, that they will pay dearly for cheating consumers and taxpayers.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb is also accused of misreporting sales prices of an antidepressant, Serzone, in order to reduce rebate payments to state Medicaid programs.
The $389 million settlement reimburses the federal government and participating states for the excessive money paid by Medicaid programs, that resulted from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s misconduct.
“We see many cases where drug companies skirt the law and game the system,” said Robert Steed, director of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, who represented Utah in this case. “Hopefully, the industry will take notice.”