Justice Department Gives Pharmacy Benefit Manager Medco 30 Days To Respond to Whistleblower Charges
The Justice Department has sent a letter to Medco Health Solutions giving the pharmacy benefit manager 30 days to respond to "sealed whistle-blower lawsuits" against the company or to enter into settlement discussions, the Wall Street Journal reports. Although neither Medco, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., nor the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia would reveal the full contents of the letter, the Journal reports that it pertains to a four-year federal investigation that may have discovered "serious issues about the way pharmacy benefit managers work." According to a Medco statement, the letter gives a "preliminary assessment" of the investigation and "summarizes the remedies the government could seek if it could prove violations of the law." The letter to Medco, which manages drug benefits for 65 million Americans, "comes amid increasing scrutiny" from lawmakers about how pharmacy benefit managers negotiate discounts from drug makers in exchange for promoting manufacturers' products, the Journal reports. The letter also comes at a time when the Bush administration is working to establish a drug discount card program that relies on pharmacy benefit mangers. The Justice Department also is conducting a fraud investigation of pharmacy benefit manager AdvancePCS, according to a June filing from the U.S. Attorney's Office (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.