(CN) - AstraZeneca agreed to pay $7.9 million to settle allegations it engaged in a kickback scheme related to its heartburn treatment drug Nexium, the Justice Department announced.
According to the agency, AstraZenaca paid kickbacks to pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions in exchange for Medco keeping Nexium's "sole and exclusive" status for certain Medco lists of medicine.
Some of the alleged kickbacks to Medco were given though price concession for other drugs, including Prilosec, Toprol XL and Plendil, the government said.
The agency said the alleged kickback scheme violated the Federal Anti-Kickback statute, and thereby caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims for Nexium to the Retiree Drug Subsidy Program.
The settlement also resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former AstraZeneca employees Paul DiMattia and F. Folger Tuggle.
They will receive $1.4 million as part of the settlement.
In a written statement, Michele Meixell, AstraZeneca's director of corporate external communications, said the company denies the allegations.
"It is in the nest interests of the company to resolve these matters and to move forward with our business of discovering and developing important, life-changing medicines while avoiding the delay, uncertainty, and expense of protracted litigation," the statement said.
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