September 23, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo.- Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that Missouri has joined with other states in reaching an agreement in principle with Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to settle allegations that the company engaged in kickback violations and off-label marketing of its cholesterol treatment drugs Advicor and Niaspan. Kos will pay the Missouri Medicaid program $226,838, which will be allocated to the state and federal governments based on their joint funding of the program.
"One of my top priorities as Attorney General is to go after companies that cheat Missouri taxpayers through Medicaid fraud," Koster said. "This settlement is a significant amount of money to be returned to taxpayers and should serve as notice to pharmaceutical companies that the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Unit will continue to hold them accountable."
Koster said Kos manufactured and sold two prescription drugs, Advicor and Niaspan, that treat low levels of HDL, Agood cholesterol." Kos is accused of unlawful marketing activities that generated increased sales of these drugs to Missourians, including those covered by the Medicaid program.
Koster alleged that between January 2001 and December 2006, Kos offered and paid for free travel, grants, honoraria, and other valuable goods and services to induce doctors and other medical professionals to prescribe or recommend Advicor and Niaspan. In addition, Kos is alleged to have promoted Advicor for use as first-line therapy for cholesterol treatment when it had not been approved for such use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Koster said Kos was purchased by Abbott Laboratories in December 2006 and Abbott took steps to correct the offending conduct. The agreement provides that if Kos renews marketing efforts regarding Advicor and Niaspan, it will do so only in compliance with applicable law.
Koster said citizens should report suspected Medicaid provider fraud or abuse and neglect to his Medicaid Fraud Hotline toll free at 800-286-3932, e-mail the complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete a complaint form at the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Website.