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Aventis pays USD 182.8m in Anzamet fraud case

On 10 September, Aventis agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations concerning its pricing and marketing of Anzemet, an anti-emetic used alongside cancer therapies

On 10 September, French pharmaceutical company Aventis Pharmaceuticals (now sanofi-aventis) agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations concerning its pricing and marketing of Anzemet (dolasetron), an anti-emetic drug used alongside cancer therapies.

The settlement relates to government claims that Aventis artificially inflated the average wholesale price (AWP) for Anzemet, which then increased the cost of government reimbursements for the drug.

As a result, Aventis racked up more profits than it would normally have through an artificially high difference between the reimbursement rate given by federal healthcare programmes and the actual price paid by healthcare providers. The company has not admitted any wrong-doing in the matter.

The company's US pharmaceutical subsidiary has, however, entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Aventis paid a civil settlement of USD 182.8m (plus interest) which included USD 172.6m to the US government to resolve all federal claims for civil damages and a USD 10.2m fund for states wanting to resolve any alleged Medicaid over-payment claims.

The suit was brought against Aventis by Ven-A-Care, a US-based home infusion company, which will receive a USD 32m share of the settlement.

Assistant Attorney General Peter D Keisler said of the case: "The Justice Department will continue to hold drug companies accountable for fraudulent pricing schemes designed to give windfalls to drug companies and doctors at the expense of federal healthcare programmes for the poor and elderly."

Critics in the pharmaceutical industry say that by allowing Medicare and federal government to set drug prices, both entities are effectively engaged in setting price controls on pharmaceuticals. In reality, the critics add, the current system only serves to increase drug prices at the expense of all, except the federal government.

30th September 2008

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