Omnicare reaches $4 million settlement over charges of receiving kickbacks for putting SNF residents on Aranesp

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Omnicare, the nation's largest long-term care pharmacy, has reached a $4 million settlement agreement over allegations that the company conspired with a pharmaceutical company to switch nursing home residents to the anemia drug Aranesp, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

Omnicare accepted kickback payments from drug-maker Amgen in exchange for pushing the medication in long-term care facilities, the whistleblower charges stated. Omnicare allegedly inappropriately influenced prescribers to choose Aranesp and implemented “therapeutic exchange” programs to switch residents from competitors' drugs to Amgen's.

“Americans who rely on federal healthcare programs, particularly vulnerable patients in skilled nursing facilities, are entitled to feel confident that decisions about their medical care are not tainted by improper financial arrangements,” said Stuart F. Delery, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division.

Omnicare did not admit to any wrongdoing under the settlement, and chose to enter into the agreement to avoid litigation that would distract from its mission of serving seniors, an Omnicare spokesman said in a statement to McKnight's.

Amgen settled for nearly $25 million last spring.

Charges also have been brought against long-term care pharmacy PharMerica and provider Kindred Healthcare for engaging in the supposed scheme to push the anemia drug, and those matters continue to be pursued, according to Grant & Eisenhofer, the law firm representing the whistleblower.

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