District of South Carolina Settles Long Term Care Pharmacy Whistle Blower Case Completing Final Leg of Anemia Drug Litigation

Columbia, South Carolina —— A $2.5 million settlement with Pharmerica, a long term care pharmacy servicing hundreds of nursing homes across the nation, completes the final leg of litigation involving the illegal promotion of Aranesp, an anemia drug manufactured by Amgen, Inc.

In 2013, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, The Department of Justice Civil Frauds and a number of states executed a $24.9 million settlement with Amgen in this case. In 2014, Omnicare followed with a $4.19 million settlement. The recent settlement brings the government’s recovery in United States ex rel. Kurnik v. Amgen et al. to just over $31.5 million.

The Kurnik litigation was brought under federal and state false claims act statutes that allow private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the government to recover money expended as a result of fraud or other wrongful conduct. The government intervened in the Amgen and Omnicare portions of the case and the Relator pursued the case against Pharmerica on behalf of the government.

“Public health insurance programs shouldn’t foot the bill for drug company schemes that manipulate doctors and patients to maximize profits,” said South Carolina US Attorney Bill Nettles. “This case is an excellent example of how the government can work together with private whistleblowers to recover money for taxpayers.”

The United States was represented by Assistant US Attorneys Fran Trapp and James Leventis from the District of South Carolina Office.

Kurnik was represented by Dick Harpootlian and Chris Kenney of Richard A. Harpootlian, P.A. in Columbia, South Carolina and Reuben Guttman, Traci Buschner, Justin Brooks and Caroline M. Poplin, J.D., M.D. of Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC in Washington, D.C.