British drug maker agrees to $15.4m settlement in doctor bribes case

Mallinckrodt agreed to settlement over claims that Questcor Pharmaceuticals, a company it since bought, lavished medics to sell drugs at high prices

Saudi Araiba only has one long-term care bed per 130,000 people. Getty Images
Saudi Araiba only has one long-term care bed per 130,000 people. Getty Images

A drug maker has agreed to pay $15.4 million to settle claims that a company it bought lavished doctors with dinners and entertainment, encouraging them to keep prescribing a drug as its price rose.

Between 2009 and 2013, Questcor Pharmaceuticals, a drug maker Mallinckrodt has since bought, allegedly gave bribes to medics in a bid to keep buying the vital MS drug which increased in price from $50 to $32,000.

In an agreement announced on Wednesday by the US Justice Department, British-based Mallinckrodt resolved kickback claims that were raised in a court filing this year in Philadelphia.

"When companies buy off doctors, patients suffer," said William McSwain, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

The government says the company raised the price of a five-dose vial of Acthar, a gel used to treat conditions related to multiple sclerosis, lupus and other diseases, from $50 to $32,000, from 2001 through 2014.

The company directed reporters to a statement from its general counsel, Mark Casey.

"We are pleased to have conclusively resolved and put this Questcor matter behind us," Mr Casey said.

"Where we can resolve legacy legal matters in a reasonable and manageable way, we will continue to do so."

The deal does not resolve other claims by the government, also filed in June, alleging the company used a charity to subsidise Medicare patients' co-payments for Acthar to allow it to keep raising prices.

Whistleblowers are to receive nearly $3 million for their role in bringing the case to light.

Updated: September 6, 2019 04:33 AM

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