The United States Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen Corp. and its subsidiaries, alleging that they engaged in illegal practices in the distribution of prescription drugs. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accuses the company of violating the False Claims Act by failing to report suspicious orders of controlled substances, as well as engaging in illegal kickback schemes.
According to the complaint, AmerisourceBergen and its subsidiaries, including Good Neighbor Pharmacy, engaged in a scheme to increase profits by:
- Distributing large quantities of drugs that were not medically necessary
- Failing to report suspicious orders of controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Kickbacks – a major problem
The company is also accused of using its Good Neighbor Pharmacy network to pay illegal kickbacks to long-term care pharmacy providers in exchange for their business. Pharmaceutical kickbacks have had a notorious history in recent years and have featured industry giants like Novartis and Purdue Pharma suspected of and guilty of committing the act.
Origins of the case
The Justice Department’s investigation into AmerisourceBergen began in 2016, and the lawsuit is the latest development in the department’s efforts to crack down on illegal activities in the pharmaceutical industry. AmerisourceBergen is one of the largest drug distributors in the United States and supplies drugs to thousands of pharmacies across the country.
The complaint also alleged that the company knowingly circumvented its own internal controls and distributed misbranded drugs, including pre-signed prescriptions and other controlled substances. Misbranding, in this situation, refers to a drug distributed with the intent to mislead or deceive the purchaser, which in this case is the government and the taxpayers.
Accountability for the people
The False Claims Act allows the government to seek triple damages and penalties for each false claim, so the potential liability for AmerisourceBergen and its subsidiaries could be significant if they are found guilty of the allegations.
The Department of Justice has made it clear that they will hold accountable those companies and individuals who engage in illegal activities in the pharmaceutical industry. The lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen is a reminder that the government is committed to protecting taxpayers and the American public from illegal and fraudulent activities in the healthcare sector.