DaVita subpoenaed by HHS Inspector General

Renal-care firm DaVita has received a subpoena from the HHS Inspector General's office asking for documents related to its use of vitamin D and anemia drugs. The company, which disclosed the request in an SEC filing, said the subpoena relates to its use of drugs Epogen, Ferrlicit, Hectorol, Venofer and Zemplar going back to 2003.

Regardless of how the Inspector General's investigation comes out, it's unlikely that the issue of why and when these types of drugs are administered will go away. El Segundo, CA-based DaVita, which had 2006 sales of $4.9 billion and earnings of $290 million, has remained under pressure from Medicare, which has been reluctant to keep paying for aggressive use of Amgen drug Epogen. If Medicare pays for dialysis on a bundled basis--which it has considered--DaVita's high Epogen profits could get whacked, with nasty consequences for its bottom line.

To learn more about the investigation:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

Related Articles:
Dialysis provider faces anemia drug pressures
Study: Dialysis chains profit from higher Epogen use