AstraZeneca and Cephalon pay $54M for underpaying drug rebates; Five defendants sentenced in elaborate overseas Medicare scheme;

News From Around the Web

> Pharmaceutical manufacturers AstraZeneca and Cephalon have agreed to pay $46.5 million and $7.5 million respectively to settle allegations that they knowingly underpaid rebates through the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, according to the Department of Justice. Government prosecutors alleged that both companies improperly reduced the average manufacturer prices by paying service fees to wholesalers, which decreased the rebates they had to pay to Medicaid. Announcement

> Five of the 11 defendants involved in an elaborate scheme that used fake Miami addresses to bill for beneficiaries living in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to four years, according to The Miami Herald. Article

> Richard Griffin, the embattled inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs, announced his retirement following ongoing criticism that he failed to thoroughly investigate fraud, waste and abuse throughout the beleaguered agency, according to The Washington Post. Congress members, whistleblowers, and veterans' groups criticized Griffin for not being aggressive enough, particularly when investigating long wait times for veterans, and most recently, spending on durable medical equipment. Article

Pharma News

> The Department of Justice and 11 states are demanding nearly $3.4 billion in damages from Novartis stemming from allegations that the drug company offered special deals to pharmacies in order to increase prescriptions of Myfortic and Exjade. Although the government claims the arrangement led to $500 million in improper payments, prosecutors are asking for more than three times that amount in damages, along with $1.83 billion in fines. Article.

Health Payer News

> Aetna's acquisition of Humana for $37 billion on Friday could spark acquisition activity from other large insurers, particularly Anthem and Cigna, which could revisit a deal that went sour last month. Health policy analyst Ana Gupte told Bloomberg that the Aetna acquisition "paves the way for Cigna and Anthem" because it reduces the number of available options. Article

And Finally… Do you think a "split-colored lobster" tastes better with butter or on a toasted roll? Article