Sanofi, Justice Department ink $11.85M charity kickbacks settlement

A federal probe of pharma’s charity contributions has secured settlements from drugmakers large and small, and Sanofi is the latest to ink a deal with the government over allegations its payments were kickbacks.  

Sanofi agreed to pay $11.85 million to resolve allegations that it used The Assistance Fund as a “conduit” to help multiple sclerosis patients pay their Medicare co-pays for Lemtrada, the Justice Department said Friday. The drug costs nearly $100,000 per year, and patient co-pays can run thousands of dollars per year. 

Sanofi worked with a third-party reimbursement group to refer patients who couldn’t afford the drug to the fund, the government alleged. The company made several payments to the group, which had run out of money and closed its doors to new patients, in 2015 and 2016, the allegations say.

“Sanofi sought to undermine the Medicare program through its use of kickbacks disguised as routine charitable donations aimed at helping patients battling multiple sclerosis and who were struggling with costly copays,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, said in a statement. 

A former employee at Sanofi’s Genzyme unit formed a limited liability partnership that brought the allegations, DOJ says. That partnership will net $2.7 million for being a whistleblower.  

The settlement didn’t include an admission of wrongdoing, Reuters reports. Sanofi entered a corporate integrity agreement under the deal. 

RELATED: Actelion inks $360M deal to resolve DOJ kickbacks probe 

The company is far from alone in inking such a deal with the government. So far in their industrywide probe, the feds have brought in settlements totaling more than $850 million. 

Companies who have inked settlements over their charity contribution include Astellas, Amgen, Jazz, Lundbeck, Alexion, Pfizer, United Therapeutics, Actelion, Mallinckrodt and Almirall.