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Attorney General Josh Stein Reaches Settlement over Pharma Company Kickback Allegations

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that he has reached a settlement over kickback violation allegations against Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Pacira”), a developer and manufacturer of pharmaceutical products based in Parsippany, New Jersey. Pursuant to the settlement terms, Pacira will pay $3,500,000.00, plus interest, to the United States and 15 states. As part of the settlement, North Carolina will receive $179,152.69 in restitution and other recoveries.

“When companies cheat the Medicaid program, it raises costs for us all,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will not allow pharma companies to engage in unethical and illegal behavior.

The settlement resolves allegations that from Dec. 1, 2012 through April 30, 2015, Pacira paid kickbacks in the form of research grants to certain healthcare providers or institutions to increase sales of its product EXPAREL®, a single-dose injectable local anesthetic indicated for the treatment of post-surgical pain. The government alleges that Pacira’s conduct violated the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the North Carolina False Claims Statute and resulted in the submission of false claims to the North Carolina Medicaid program.

This settlement results from a whistleblower lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. A team from the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) participated in the settlement negotiations on behalf of the states. The North Carolina settlement agreement was reached by the Medicaid Investigations Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice and the North Carolina Division of Health Benefits.

The Attorney General’s MID investigates fraud and abuse by healthcare companies and providers, as well as patient abuse and neglect in facilities that are funded by Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that helps provide medical care for people with limited income. To date, the MID has recovered more than $850 million in restitution and penalties for North Carolina. The Medicaid Investigations Division receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $6,160,252 for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2020. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $2,053,414 for FY 2020, is funded by the State of North Carolina.

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