US alleges Novartis paid kickbacks to specialty pharmacies

In a new lawsuit, the U.S. government alleges Novartis paid kickbacks to specialty pharmacies to increase sales of deferasirox (Exjade), which removes excess iron from the blood of patients who receive transfusions, and mycophenolic acid (Myfortic), to prevent rejection of kidney transplants.

In a new lawsuit, the US government alleges Novartis paid kickbacks to specialty pharmacies to increase sales of deferasirox (Exjade), which removes excess iron from the blood of patients who receive transfusions, and mycophenolic acid (Myfortic), to prevent rejection of kidney transplants.

Related: 7 strategies for managing the rise in specialty drugs costs

In the suit, filed in US District Court in Manhattan, the United States is seeking as much as $3.3 billion in damages. A group of specialty pharmacies submitted thousands of fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare and Medicaid for the 2 drugs, according to the lawsuit, Bloombergreported. Novartis paid kickbacks in the form of rebates, so the pharmacies would recommend the drugs to patients and boost sales, according to the suit.

Related:Specialty drug coverage varies across health plans

Novartis said it provided legitimate rebates to the pharmacies in the court filing. The company “continues to dispute the allegations and is continuing to defend itself in this litigation,” Novartis said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We look forward to a full presentation of all of the evidence during the trial.”

Read next: High healthcare costs driven by spike in Rx costs