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March 18, 2010
Pain-pill producer will pay Washington state for misleading claims

OLYMPIA –Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that Washington will receive nearly $100,000, to be split between the state’s general fund and Medicaid program, from a national settlement with drug maker Alpharma.

Washington joined other states and the federal government to reach an agreement with Alpharma, Inc., settling allegations that the company made false or fraudulent claims about Kadian, a morphine-based pain medication.

“Taxpayers pay for drugs when they’re prescribed to Medicaid recipients,” McKenna said. “We should be sure that the drugs work as advertised. While most drug companies provide honest information about effective products, we aggressively pursue the ones who make inflated claims. It’s about protecting the public’s investment in these programs.”

The states alleged that from January 2000 through December 2008, Alpharma spread false information to convince doctors about the safety and effectiveness of Kadian in treating severe pain. The company paid for training programs, consulting forums, research grants and speakers’ bureaus, and made false claims about the drug to convince doctors to prescribe it, they said.

Under the agreement, Alpharma will pay the participating states and the federal government $42.5 million plus interest.  Nationwide Medicaid programs will receive about $19.2 million.

Washington’s share is $205,000. Nearly $48,000 will be paid back to the state’s Medicaid program and just under $50,000 will be deposited into the General Fund. The rest will reimburse the federal government for its contribution to Medicaid, which is funded jointly by the federal government and the states.


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725


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