The US Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Sanofi agreed to pay $109 million to resolve allegations that the drugmaker violated the False Claims Act by giving doctors free samples of knee injection product Hyalgan (hyaluronate) to encourage them to buy and prescribe the treatment. Sanofi said that it cooperated with the government’s investigation and plans to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The Department of Justice indicated that the settlement also resolves allegations that Sanofi submitted false sales reports for Hyalgan that did not account for the free samples distributed contingent on purchases of the product. According to the US authority, Sanofi sales representatives "often entered into illegal sampling arrangements with physicians, using the free units as kickbacks and promising to provide negotiated numbers of them in order to lower Hyalgan’s effective price."
The drugmaker said in a statement that it "voluntarily stopped sampling Hyalgan in 2009" and that the settlement agreement "has been resolved within existing financial reserves."
The agreement resolves a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2010 by a former sales representative.
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