Amgen Inc. will pay $24.9 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to pharmacies that pushed its drugs, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
The Thousand Oaks biotech will pay the government over claims that it violated the False Claims Act through kickbacks paid to long-term-care pharmacies managed by Omnicare Inc. of Cincinnati, and PharMerica Corp. and Kindred Healthcare Inc., both of Louisville, Ky.
The Justice Department alleged that Amgen was paying kickbacks in the form of performance-based rebates tied to market share and sales volume and actively encouraged pharmacists and nursing home staff to give its drug Aranesp to patients who didn’t have the conditions the drug is approved to treat.
Aranesp is approved to treat anemia associated with chronic renal failure or those undergoing chemotherapy.
“We will continue to pursue pharmaceutical companies that pay kickbacks to long-term care pharmacy providers to influence drug prescribing decisions,” said Stuart Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil division, in a statement. “Patients in skilled nursing facilities deserve care that is free of improper financial influences.”
Amgen did not admit guilt or liability as part of the settlement. Officials with the company could not be reached for immediate comment.
In December, Amgen pleaded guilty to mislabeling Aranesp and reached a $762 million settlement on the charges. In that case, the firm was accused of urging use of Aranesp in patients who were not undergoing chemotherapy and recommending higher dosages and more frequent use than the Food and Drug Administration had approved.
Shares of Amgen closed up $2.37, or 2.2 percent, to $110.85 on the Nasdaq.