Kos Pharmaceuticals Fined $41 Million for Kickback, Off-Label Promotion Charges

Kick-backs and illegal promotions involving durgs Niaspan and Advicor

Kos Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, has agreed to pay more than $41 million to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from conduct relating to its drugs Advicor and Niaspan, the Justice Department announced earlier this week.

The civil settlement resolves allegations that Kos offered and paid doctors, other medical professionals, physician groups and managed care organizations, illegal kickbacks in the form of money, free travel, grants, honoraria and other valuable goods and services, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute to get them to prescribe or recommend Niaspan and Advicor.

In addition, the United States contends that Kos promoted the sale and use of Advicor for use as first-line therapy for management of mixed dyslipidemias (a disruption of the lipids in the blood.) Such an off-label use was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration nor was it a medically-accepted indication for which the United States and state Medicaid programs provided coverage for Advicor.

Kos was also charged with violating a statute by agreeing to pay physicians kickbacks in exchange for their writing prescriptions for Kos drugs. Specifically, two doctors proposed that they would endorse the use of Kos products, including Advicor, for the treatment of cholesterol in exchange for a series of payments. Between January 2002 and June 2006, one of the doctors wrote 4,130 prescriptions for Kos products. According to the court documents, some of those prescriptions were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. From 2002 to 2004, Kos made a series of payments to the two doctors or a third party intermediary in the form of sponsorship of continuing medical education classes conducted by the doctors and purported speakers' fees.

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