Monday, November 2, 2009


States Sue Amgen Over Alleged Kickbacks Plan

NEW YORK—New York, 13 other states and the District of Columbia sued Amgen Inc. and other drug suppliers over an alleged kickback scheme designed to boost sales of the anemia drug Aranesp, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Mr. Cuomo said in a statement the multistate intervenor lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston alleges that Amgen, AmerisourceBergen Corp., and AmerisourceBergen's drug wholesaler, ASD Healthcare, and specialty group purchasing unit International Nephrology Network encouraged doctors to bill third-party payers, such as Medicaid, for free samples of Aranesp.
David Polk, an Amgen spokesman, said in a statement, "We believe that the allegations are without merit, and we look forward to the opportunity to examine these matters with the states before the court."
Mr. Cuomo said the lawsuit alleges that Amgen conspired with INN and ASD Healthcare to offer improper kickbacks to medical providers—such as sham consultancy agreements, weekend retreats or other services—to induce them to purchase and prescribe Aranesp.
"Drugs should be prescribed to patients on the basis of need, effectiveness, and safety, not on a corporate giant's promise of an all-expense paid vacation," Mr. Cuomo said. "In an egregious violation of the law, Amgen allegedly bribed medical providers and left taxpayers footing the bill for free drug samples."
The lawsuit was filed in connection with a whistleblower complaint first brought in U.S. District Court in Boston in 2006 against Amgen and others for allegedly illegal marketing of Aranesp. The whistleblower complaint was brought on behalf of the U.S. government and a number of states, including New York.
Amgen's Mr. Polk said the company has a solid compliance program and a code of conduct called "Do The Right Thing." The company expects all employees to follow it at all times, he said.
Michael Kilpatric, an AmerisourceBergen spokesman, said in a statement, "We've had no contact in this case with anyone in the N.Y. AG's office or any other state attorneys general offices and we expect to defend ourselves vigorously. We have received a subpoena from the Department of Justice related to the issues that are set forth in this case and we have been cooperating fully with the Department of Justice, and DOJ has not intervened in this case to date."
The states which brought the suit Friday are California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Write to Chad Bray at

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