Omnicare illegally accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in exchange for pushing doctors to prescribe a specific drug to dementia patients, the government is alleging in a lawsuit filed Monday against Omnicare.
Attempts to reach Omnicare and Abbott for comments late Monday afternoon were not successful.
The government’s complaint alleges that Omnicare, the nation’s largest supplier of drugs to nursing homes, accepted money from Abbott to buy and recommend the drug Depakote to control behavioral disturbances in dementia patients, a use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe or effective. Omnicare allegedly had its pharmacists review nursing home patients’ charts at least once a month and make drug recommendations to doctors.
In exchange for pushing Depakote, Omnicare allegedly accepted payments from Abbott described as “grants” and “educational funding” though, in reality, they were kickbacks, according to the government. Abbott also allegedly paid for Omnicare meetings in Florida, offered Omnicare managers tickets to sporting events and made other payments to local Omnicare pharmacies.
“Omnicare entered into agreements with some drug manufacturers, including Abbott, to recommend that manufacturer’s products over competitor drugs in exchange for ‘rebates’ and other payments and remuneration,” according to the complaint. “These payments undermined the independence of the consulting pharmacists and subverted their role of ensuring that nursing homes complied with OBRA regulations such that they, in fact, became an extension of the drug manufacturers’ sales forces.”
The government filed its complaint against Omnicare in two consolidated lawsuits that began with whistleblowers who filed their lawsuits under the False Claims Act in the Western District of Virginia. The government took over the cases from the whistleblowers. The whistleblowers will be entitled to a portion of any money the government is able to recover.
Abbott, based in Abbott Park, Ill., already agreed to a $1.5 billion settlement with the government and a number of individual states in May 2012, partly in regard to allegations it paid kickbacks to nursing home pharmacies, according to the Department of Justice.
Omnicare also has faced a number of other allegations under the False Claims Act. The Covington, Ky.-based company agreed to pay $120 million in 2013 to settle allegations that it gave improper discounts on some Medicare patients’ drugs in exchange for the ability to provide drugs to others in the same long-term-care facilities. Omnicare did not admit to any wrongdoing in that settlement. It also has faced a number of other False Claims Act lawsuits.
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