Intended for healthcare professionals


Pfizer pays $24m to settle kickback claims over patient assistance charity

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 29 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2361
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Pfizer will pay the US government $23.85m (£18m; €20.7m) to resolve allegations that it broke federal law by helping Medicare patients to pay their deductible on expensive Pfizer drugs so that the government would pay the rest.

Medicare prescription drug plans pay most of the drug costs for beneficiaries of the programme aged over 65, but patients are liable for a deductible or co-payment on each prescription, which cannot exceed $405 a year.

Some Medicare patients who would be discouraged from taking a drug by the co-payment can be tempted to change their mind if a benefactor pays it, thus forcing the government to bear the rest of the drug’s cost. Several drug companies have been acting as such benefactors, the US government believes, funding the co-payments on their priciest drugs through patient charities founded for that purpose—breaching the anti-kickback statute of the False Claims Act. …

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