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Virginia gets $12 million from drug settlement

Virginia health care plans will recover nearly $12 million under the nation’s largest ever health care settlement announced today, reports the state’s attorney general.

Bill Mims said Virginia’s total federal and state Medicaid recovery under the government’s agreement with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is nearly $12 million, with $6.2 million being returned to the Commonwealth for healthcare costs.

It’s part of the overall $2.3 billion (that’s billion, with a “b”) plea deal that calls for Pfizer to admit misbranding an anti-inflammatory drug.  Pfizer promoted “Bextra” for uses not approved by the FDA.

The numbers are breathtaking.  Pfizer will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion, the largest criminal fine ever imposed in the United States.  Its subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn, also will forfeit $105 million, for a total criminal resolution of $1.3 billion.

But wait, there’s more!  Pfizer has agreed to pay $1 billion to resolve allegations under the civil False Claims Act that the company illegally promoted four drugs – Bextra; Geodon, an anti-psychotic drug; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, an anti-epileptic drug – and caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs for uses that were not medically accepted indications and therefore not covered by those programs.

The civil settlement also resolves allegations that Pfizer paid kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe these and other drugs. The federal share of the civil settlement is $668,514,830 and the states’ Medicaid share of the civil settlement is $331,485,170.  It’s the largest civil fraud settlement against a pharmaceutical company in history.

By Peter Vieth

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