WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Following on the heels of a $24.9 million settlement with Amgen last April, long-term care pharmacy Omnicare (NYSE: OCR) has resolved allegations that it received remuneration from Amgen in order to influence the selection and utilization of the drug Aranesp throughout the nations' nursing homes. Aranesp, with limited indications, is used to treat anemia.
The False Claims Act case, brought in U.S. District Court in South Carolina by whistleblower Frank Kurnik, alleged violations by Amgen, along with pharmacy providers Omnicare, PharMerica and Kindred. While the claims against Amgen and Omnicare have now been resolved, the case is proceeding against PharMerica and Kindred.
The settlement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice, Kurnik, and Omnicare outlines the settled claims as follows:
From the period between September 1, 2003 through June 30, 2005, the United States alleges that Omnicare solicited and received remuneration from Amgen Inc. in the form of purported discounts, purported market-share rebates, grants, honoraria, speaker fees, consulting services, dinners, travel or fees for the purchase of data, and that this remuneration was solicited and received in exchange for Omnicare's influencing of health care providers' selection and utilization of Aranesp within long-term care settings, and for implementing "Therapeutic Interchange" programs (also known as "switching" programs) intended to identify patients who were taking a competitor drug and to switch those patients to Aranesp. The United States alleges that as a result of the foregoing Covered Conduct, Omnicare knowingly caused false and/or fraudulent claims for Aranesp to be submitted to Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs.
Defendant PharMerica, like Omnicare, is a pharmaceutical distribution and services company which services nursing centers and assisted living facilities. Kindred Healthcare operates nursing centers and rehabilitation services throughout the country. The False Claims Act complaint filed by Mr. Kurnik alleges that in addition to Omnicare, Amgen conspired with "PharMerica and Kindred to promote Aranesp sales through rebate contracting including targeted programs designed to influence prescriptions of Aranesp in the nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities serviced by these LTCPPs."
"The allegations underlying the claims that were resolved with Omnicare are yet another reminder of how medical decisions impacting vulnerable patient populations are being made at a corporate level for monetary as opposed to medical reasons," said Reuben Guttman one of the nation's leading counsel on behalf of whistleblowers in the health care industry. Mr. Guttman heads the False Claims practice at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. Mr. Kurnik was additionally represented by G&E senior counsel Traci Buschner, and associate, Justin Victor. Co-counsel in South Carolina was prominent trial attorney Richard Harpootlian of Richard A. Harpootlian P.A.
"Our intent is to vigorously pursue the remaining defendants in this case," said Mr. Guttman.
Grant & Eisenhofer is one of the nation's leading high-impact litigation firms. In the last two years, its False Claims Litigation Group has had unprecedented success representing lead whistleblowers in the government's $1.6 billion settlement with Abbott (2012); its $1.04 billion settlement with GlaxoSmithKline (2012); its $257 million settlement with Pfizer (Wyeth) (2013); and its $24.9 million dollar settlement with Amgen (2013).
About Grant & Eisenhofer
Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. represents plaintiffs in a wide range of complex financial litigation. G&E's clients include institutional investors, whistleblowers and other stakeholders in bankruptcy litigation, securities class actions, derivative lawsuits, consumer class actions, antitrust suits, and cases involving the False Claims Act. G&E has recovered more than $13 billion for investors in the last five years and has consistently been cited by RiskMetrics for securing the highest average investor recovery in securities class actions. Grant & Eisenhofer has been named one of the country's top plaintiffs' law firms by The National Law Journal for the past nine years.
SOURCE Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.