A drugmaker has agreed to pay $15.4 million to settle claims that a company it purchased lavished doctors with dinners and entertainment to encourage them to keep prescribing a drug as its price ballooned, under an agreement announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Britain-based Mallinckrodt resolved kickback claims that were spelled out in a court filing earlier this year in Philadelphia. The claims pertain to actions from 2009 to 2013 by Questcor Pharmaceuticals, a company Mallinckrodt has since bought.
"When companies buy off doctors, patients suffer," William McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
The government says the company raised the price of a roughly 5-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 general counsel Mark Casey: "We are pleased to have conclusively resolved and put this Questcor matter behind us," he said.
The deal does not resolve other claims by the government, also filed in June, alleging the company used a charity to subsidize Medicare patients' copayments 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.