Omnicare and the federal government plan to settle a lawsuit accusing Omnicare of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in exchange for pushing doctors to prescribe a certain drug to dementia patients, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday.
The court documents don't specify the amount of the settlement but say that lawyers for the government and Omnicare reached on July 2 a proposed agreement to the monetary portion of the case. The agreement is subject to approval by federal and state officials.
A spokesman for Omnicare declined to comment on the agreement Wednesday. Covington, Ky.-based Omnicare is the country's largest supplier of drugs to nursing homes.
A spokesman for the Justice Department also declined to comment Wednesday.
Abbott, based in Abbott Park, Ill., already agreed to a $1.5 billion settlement with the government and a number of states in 2012, partly related to allegations it paid kickbacks to nursing home pharmacies. As part of that settlement, Abbott did not admit to wrongdoing in relation to all of the allegations against it.
In the lawsuit against Omnicare, the government alleged that the company 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 regularly review nursing home patients' charts and make drug recommendations to doctors.
Omnicare allegedly accepted money from Abbott described as “grants” and “educational funding” in exchange for pushing the drug. The government described those payments as kickbacks.
Abbott also allegedly paid for Omnicare meetings in Florida, offered tickets to sporting events to Omnicare managers and made other payments to local Omnicare pharmacies.
“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,” according to the complaint.
The government filed its complaint against Omnicare in two consolidated lawsuits that were originally brought by whistle-blowers. In successful False Claims Act cases, whistle-blowers are entitled to a portion of whatever money the government is able to recover.