Drug maker accused of illegal kickbacks to pay N.C. substantial fine

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The attorney general announced Wednesday that a drug maker, accused of offering kickbacks to get doctors to prescribe the company’s drugs, will pay North Carolina a substantial fine.

Drug maker Daiichi Sankyo will pay $39 million to states and the federal government to compensate Medicaid, as well as other fines.

“Drugs should be prescribed because they are the best choice for the patient, not because the company offers the best benefits to the doctor,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a press release. “Offering kickbacks doesn’t put patients’ interests first.”

The pharmaceutical company offered lavish meals and other kickbacks to lure physicians into prescribing its drugs such as Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor, which are all used to treat high blood pressure, and Welchol, which is used to treat high cholesterol.

North Carolina’s share of the national settlement includes more than $221,000 for Medicaid efforts and nearly $40,000 in civil penalties that go to public schools under the state constitution.

The investigation that led to the settlement grew out of a false claims action filed by a former Daiichi Sankyo sales representative in 2010, according to the press release.