California Insurance Commission claims AbbVie bribed physicians in $1.2B kickback scheme — 6 insights

The California Insurance Commission is suing AbbVie saying the drugmaker allegedly offered physicians kickbacks for its popular, gastroenterology drug Humira, which resulted in $1.2 billion in fraudulent claims, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. Humira treats Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis as well arthritis.

2. The state alleged AbbVie illegally offered physicians cash, meals, trips, drinks and patient referrals to ensure they prescribed Humira.

3. The state also alleged AbbVie sent registered nurses to the homes of patients prescribed Humira to serve as "Humira ambassadors." The nurses allegedly helped with patient care, and were instructed by AbbVie to not communicate patient concerns to physicians.

4. AbbVie told the Chronicle the allegations were meritless.

5. "AbbVie operates in compliance with the many state and federal laws that govern interactions with healthcare providers and patients," the company said in a statement to the Chronicle. "AbbVie provides a number of support services for patients, once they are prescribed Humira, that both educate and assist patients with their therapy, including nursing support, and these resources are beneficial to patients dealing with a chronic condition. They in no way replace or interfere with interactions between patients and their healthcare providers.".

6. The state is seeking up to $6.3 billion in penalties and injunctive relief against AbbVie and is also seeking a court order to prevent more alleged kickbacks.

Note: An AbbVie representative did not respond to Becker's ASC Review before publication.

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