Kmart pays $1.4 million Medicare settlement
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart has paid the U.S. government $1.4 million to resolve allegations that it improperly used drug manufacturer coupons and gasoline discounts to reduce pharmacy costs for Medicare patients at Kmart pharmacies.
The settlement resolves allegations that Kmart violated the False Claims Act by providing illegal inducements to beneficiaries of the Medicare program. The government alleged that from June 2011 to June 2014, Kmart influenced the decisions of Medicare beneficiaries to bring their prescriptions to its pharmacies by permitting them to use drug manufacturer coupons to reduce or eliminate prescription co-pays.
Federal law prohibits influencing a Medicare patient’s choice of provider with this type of offer. The government alleged that Kmart’s conduct caused the Medicare beneficiaries to seek expensive, brand name drugs instead of cheaper generic drugs, which caused the government’s costs to increase without any medical benefit. The government also alleged that Kmart improperly encouraged Medicare beneficiaries to bring their prescriptions to Kmart pharmacies by offering them discounts on gasoline based on the number of prescriptions that they filled at Kmart pharmacies.
The settlement resolves allegations in a lawsuit filed by Joshua Leighr, a former Kmart pharmacist, who will receive approximately $248,500 of the settlement. Kmart is not accepting any liability as part of the settlement.
Walgreens kicks off vaccination campaign
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens kicked off its third Get a Shot. Give a Shot campaign on Wednesday. This year’s campaign promises to provide a life-saving vaccine for every immunization administered at any Walgreens pharmacy, Healthcare Clinic or Duane Reade until Aug. 31, 2016.
Donations will be made through the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.
“Get a Shot. Give a Shot demonstrates the important role our customers can play, and how a flu shot or other immunization can truly make a world of difference,” Walgreens president Alex Gourlay said. “We’re extremely proud of the global impact the program has made. And as we expand our relationship with the UN Foundation, our objective is to also increase our donation over last season to help provide more life-saving vaccines to children who need them most.”
Around the world, 1 in 5 children cannot access life-saving immunizations, and a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease, according to Walgreens.
"Vaccines protect and improve the lives of millions of children in developing countries each year,” Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the UN Foundation, said. “The prevention of measles deaths has been the single largest contributor to reducing childhood deaths over the last decade and we are now so close to ending polio. By expanding our partnership with Walgreens, we can support UN efforts to help children access these life-saving vaccines around the globe.”
Novartis, Amgen team on migraine, Alzheimer’s drug development
BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis and Amgen are joining forces to develop and commercialize neuroscience treatments in both their pipelines the companies announced Tuesday. The collaboration will see them working on a BACE inhibitor program to treat Alzheimer’s disease and developing Amgen’s migraine drugs.
"This Novartis collaboration with Amgen highlights our clear commitment to neuroscience and to bring multiple, new targeted therapies to patients living with Alzheimer's disease and migraine, where the unmet medical need remains high." Novartis Pharmaceuticals head David Epstein said.
The Amgen partnership comes on the heels of Novartis’ recent acquisition of Spinifex Phamceuticals, which added a compound for neuropathic pain to the company’s portfolio, and its agreement to acquire multiple sclerosis treatment Ofatumumab from GlaxoSmithKline.