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U.S. and 16 States Join Suits Against Pharmaceutical Giant, Wyeth
Date:5/18/2009

Drug Company Allegedly Failed to Pay Hundreds of Millions In Rebates to Medicaid Program

WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States and 16 states have joined in two whistleblower suits filed in the District of Massachusetts against the drug manufacturer, Wyeth, alleging that the company knowingly failed to give the government the same discounts it provided to private purchasers of its drugs, as required by laws governing the Medicaid program. As a result, Wyeth allegedly avoided paying hundreds of millions in rebates due to state Medicaid programs for its drugs, Protonix Oral and Protonix IV. These drugs belong to a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which are used to suppress stomach acid.

Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers of brand name drugs (i.e. non-generic drugs) are required to report to the government the prices they charge their customers, including the "best price" offered for their drugs. They also are required to pay rebates to the state Medicaid programs that are calculated on any discounted prices that are offered. Congress created the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program in order to ensure that Medicaid, one of the largest purchasers of drugs in the United States and the nation's provider of health insurance to the poor and the disabled, received the benefit of the same discounts offered to large commercial customers in the marketplace.

Between 2000 and 2006, Wyeth offered steep discounts to thousands of hospitals nationwide for Protonix Oral and Protonix IV under a pricing arrangement known as the "Protonix Performance Agreement." This pricing arrangement required that the hospitals purchase both drugs together under a so-called "bundled" arrangement and it offered them a steep discount for doing so. Wyeth did this in part to gain access to the far more lucrative retail outpatient market, intending that patients who used the intravenous v
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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