Sanofi settles Hyalgan kickback probe for $109M

Sanofi wrapped up a case involving arthritis injection Hyalgan.

Amgen's $762 million marketing settlement has grabbed the biggest headlines, but Sanofi ($SNY) also announced a False Claims Act deal. The French drugmaker agreed to pay $109 million to wrap up a Justice Department probe into kickback allegations. The case didn't involve criminal charges.

The deal involves an alleged pricing scheme that incentivized doctors to use its arthritis injection Hyalgan. According to the government, Sanofi reps were armed with thousands of free Hyalgan syringes, so they could use the no-cost doses as kickbacks for doctors who would bill for the product at the usual rate. The reps also promised "negotiated" amounts of the drug to lower its effective price, the government said.

And that's where the scheme crossed into pricing territory. The Justice Department says the free samples weren't accounted for in the average sales prices reported to government health programs. And that, the government says, caused those government programs to pay too much for Hyalgan.

Sanofi says it stopped the sampling program in 2009, Reuters reports, and since then has toughened up on compliance. The company says it cooperated with the investigation and is now setting up a corporate integrity agreement with the feds, Bloomberg reports.

"Before the government initiated the investigation that led to this settlement, Sanofi identified concerns with Hyalgan sampling through the operation of its compliance program and immediately took strong, proactive and effective steps to address these issues," the company said in a statement.

- check out the DoJ press release
- read the Reuters news
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