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Amgen Sued Over Alleged Medical Kickback Scheme

New York and 14 other states are filing suit against the company Amgen Inc, the largest biotechnology company in the world. The claim is that the company devised and used a nationwide kickback scheme to boost the sale of drugs. The company, along with AmerisourceBergen Corp, is charged with providing medical providers with a kickback for increasing sales of the company’s product Aranesp, an anemia medication.

bribery4.jpgIn order to accomplish this, the companies encouraged medical providers to invoice third party payers for Aranesp, including Medicaid, says New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The rewards included retreats and other services.

Aranesp is the third largest drug in sales for the company, producing some $3.1 billion in sales. The company lost sales since 2006 (at which time the product was the company’s top sales maker) due to the discovery of a link to increased rates of heart attack and death in kidney patients. Aranesp has sold more than $11 billion since its first sales in 2001. The FDA has approved the product to treat anemia associated with renal failure and chemotherapy induced anemia.

David Polk, who is the spokesman for Amgen, states that the allegations are without merit. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a subpoena of AmerisourceBergen, who claims they are cooperating fully with the demands.

Other jurisdictions that are joining in the law suit include the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Virginia. The case was filed in a Massachusetts court.