Missouri Gets $22 Million From Pfizer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Missouri will receive $22 million from Pfizer as part of the largest nationwide Medicaid fraud settlement in history. The agreement settles claims that Pfizer paid kickbacks and pushed its drugs for off-label uses. Doctors can prescribe drugs for off-label uses, but drug companies cannot push them for that.

     The settlement adds to the state’s record-breaking year for Medicaid fraud recovery. Missouri’s Medicaid Fraud Unit has collected more than $75 million this year. The previous high was $33.5 million in 2008.
     Pfizer will pay the states and the federal government $1 billion to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and other federal healthcare programs for its conduct, according to the settlement. Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, a Pfizer subsidiary, has pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and will pay a criminal fine and forfeiture of $1.3 billion.
     The criminal component of the agreement centers on the illegal marketing and promotion of Bextra, an anti-inflammatory drug that Pfizer pulled from the market in 2005. The plaintiffs claimed that Pfizer marketed Bextra and other drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and gave kickbacks to physicians to promote Bextra and other drugs.

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