A Northern California health information technology developer has agreed to pay $145 million to the Federal government to settle allegations that it received kickbacks in exchange for engineering their electronic health records (EHR) to encourage the prescription of another company’s opioids.
Federal prosecutors say the firm crafted its EHR software in a manner that was intended to influence doctors to prescribe opioids sold by a particular firm from whom it received kickbacks. According to prosecutors, the software included an alert that was triggered when certain criteria were met that would feature a description of a drug sold by certain drug companies. The paid alerts were allegedly written so as to trigger for situations that are not clinically appropriate for the drug described in the alert, and the paying company was also allowed to write some of the information presented in the alert.
Prosecutors say the firm touted the expected increases in prescriptions of the drugs featured in the alerts, and they presented numbers they say reflect that fact. From the program’s inception in 2014 until the practice’s end five years later, they say a significant number of new scrips were written by doctors for the medicines included in the alerts.
In exchange for settling the allegations, the firm has agreed to pay to the Federal government over $26 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Additionally, the firm is paying out $118.6 million in related civil settlements to both state and federal governments to resolve allegations that it received kickbacks from pharmaceutical firms and caused its users to submit false claims for federal incentive programs because it misrepresented its EHR software.
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