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Drug Sales Multiply Illegally by Using Charity

Drug corporations have been targeted by federal authorities for allegedly manipulating charitable donations to increase sales for years. Biogen was one of the Drug companies to agree to a federal settlement, but now Humana is suing the business for its charitable donations. Humana claims that Biogen tried to boost sales of the multiple sclerosis Drug Tysabri, Avonex, and Tecfidera by “seeding” patients with free samples and then “sweeping” them onto Medicare and other government insurance programmes through its charity giving, according to a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts on Friday.

Humana claims Biogen did so by illegally paying patients’ copays “under the pretext of unfettered charity contributions.” Biogen partnered with speciality pharmacy Advanced Care Scripts, as well as the “nominally charitable nonprofits” Chronic Disease Fund and The Assistance Fund, according to the insurer, to ensure that its charity donations would improve sales. Copays can be thousands of dollars per patient because Biogen’s multiple sclerosis medications cost between $50,000 and $80,000 per year, according to Humana.

As copays are a “small proportion” of the total cost, pharma corporations can “make a significant return” by paying them. The federal government has argued it is illegal for Drug makers to pay Medicare patient copays, and it has filed litigation against many of the industry’s leading players in recent years. Biogen, for its part, agreed to pay $22 million to settle identical claims brought by federal prosecutors late last year.

Meanwhile, the Chronic Disease Fund and The Assistance Fund, the two charities at the focus of Humana’s complaint, have reached federal settlements for $4 million and $2 million, respectively. The specialty pharmacy Advanced Care Scripts also reached a $1.4 million settlement with the federal government. According to rumours, Humana has filed similar cases against Teva and Regeneron in addition to Biogen.

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