Companies: Amgen, Astellas
Settlement amount: $125 million
Date: April 2019
Claims: Patient kickbacks
Plaintiff: U.S. Department of Justice
Product: Xtandi, Sensipar
J&J's Actelion reached a big settlement to shut down federal claims it used a charitable contribution tag to hide patient subsidies for its drugs, but it wasn't the only drugmaker wrapped up in the federal hunt.
On the same day in April, Astellas and Amgen both agreed to settle their own DOJ probes on claims they were paying for subscriptions. This entry technically breaks the rules: The settlements are legally separate, but because the DOJ announced them on the same day, we included them as a single entry on the list.
According to prosecutors, Astellas boosted sales of Xtandi, an androgen receptor inhibitor that treats prostate cancer, by asking patient foundations to create copay funds specifically for the ARI category.
As for Amgen, the government claims it stopped donating in 2011 to a fund that supported patients taking any secondary hyperparathyroidism drug, including its own Sensipar. Then, the company worked with another patient foundation to create a fund that would only cover copays for patients using Sensipar.
The Amgen allegations didn’t end there. The feds said Kyprolis maker Onyx Pharmaceuticals, which Amgen bought in 2013 for $10.4 billion, donated to a fund that ostensibly paid for all multiple myeloma patients’ expenses when they traveled to healthcare facilities for treatment. But the fund only paid for Kyprolis patients’ costs, the feds say. Amgen kept making the payments after integrating Onyx into its operations, according to the allegations.
Earlier the same month, the Justice Department struck deals with Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck and Alexion totaling $122 million to settle similar allegations. Those deals followed a similar settlement with Teva months earlier for $135 million.