PharMerica Corp., the nation's second-largest nursing home pharmacy, has agreed to pay $9.25 million to settle allegations it took kickbacks in exchange for promoting a specific drug to nursing home patients.
Attempts to reach Kentucky-based PharMerica for comment Wednesday morning were unsuccessful, but the pharmacy denied the allegations as part of the settlement agreement. PharMerica operates about 95 pharmacies in the U.S. and serves about 300,000 residents of long-term-care and other facilities, according to the settlement agreement.
The whistle-blowers and government alleged that PharMerica's consultant pharmacists recommended nursing home physicians prescribe Depakote, an anti-epileptic medication made by Abbott Laboratories, in exchange for kickbacks from the drugmaker. The government alleged the kickbacks took the form of rebates, educational grants and other financial support.
Abbott already agreed in 2012 to pay $1.5 billion to settle the related allegations against it—the second-largest settlement by a drug company at the time.
The lawsuits were originally brought by two whistle-blowers, former Abbott employees Richard Spetter and Meredith McCoyd. Under the False Claims Act, whistle-blowers are entitled to a portion of any money the government is able to recover in such cases.
McCoyd will receive $1 million from the settlement announced Wednesday.
Also, $2.5 million of the settlement will go toward Medicaid program claims by states that choose to participate in the settlement.