Alpharma to Pay $42.5M to Resolve Kickback, False Claims Act Allegations

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , March 17, 2010

Alpharma Inc. will pay $42.5 million to resolve whistleblower kickback and False Claims Act allegations for its marketing of the painkiller Kadian, the Justice Department said.

Federal prosecutors alleged that between 2000-2008 Alpharma paid healthcare providers to promote or prescribe Kadian, and made misrepresentations about the safety and efficacy of the morphine-based drug.

Alpharma was sold to Bristol, TN-based King Pharmaceuticals Inc. in November 2008. Calls Tuesday night to King Pharmaceuticals were not immediately returned.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by whistleblower Debra Parks in 2006. Parks will receive $5.33 million out of the federal government's $33.6 million share of the recovery, and several states will share approximately $8.9 million.

"Healthcare decisions must be based solely upon what is best for the individual patient and not on which pharmaceutical company is paying the doctor the biggest kickback," said Rod J. Rosenstein, the US Attorney in Maryland, in a media release.

The Justice Department's total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 have topped $3 billion, according to the department.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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