Mississippi Targets Pharma Firms for False Claims

JACKSON, Miss. (CN) – Mississippi sued over a dozen drug companies Friday to recoup more than $7 million lost in an alleged scheme that tricked the state Medicaid system into overpaying for drugs that were unapproved for reimbursement.

Defendants in the six lawsuits filed in Hinds County Court include Barr Laboratories, Endo Pharmaceuticals, United Research Laboratories and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood claims in the lawsuits that the drug companies intentionally reported unapproved drugs and products not covered by the Food and Drug Administration and “concealed the true status of their respective drugs from the state’s Medicaid agency.”

“Each defendant knew its drugs were not eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Each defendant also knew that reporting and publishing false information would cause the state to pay for drugs not rightfully reimbursable,” according to the March 10 lawsuits.

“The state, by and through its Attorney General, brings this action to recover all amounts paid for unapproved and ineligible prescription drugs by the state as a result of the fraudulent and deceptive conduct of defendants.”

Mississippi seeks actual damages and restitution for claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.

Hood, a Democrat, said the pharmaceutical company defendants violated Mississippi’s Consumer Protection and Medicaid Fraud Control Acts.

A spokesperson for Teva Pharmaceuticals, which also owns Barr, did not immediately respond Tuesday to an emailed request for comment.