Aventis Pharmaceutical Inc. has consented to pay a huge amount to resolve charges that the drug maker over-billed federal and state health agencies for medications designated for indigent patients. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanofi-Aventis, admitted that it violated the False Claims Act when it misreported pharmaceutical pricing for Medicaid patients.

As part of the Medicaid Drug Rebate program, Aventis was to report to Medicaid the lowest price paid by commercial customers and to give rebates to state Medicaid programs based on the reported lowest prices. Instead, Aventis intentionally misquoted its lowest prices and then underpaid rebates to the states and over-billed other public health agencies for the drugs. The medications involved were Azmacort, Nasacort and Nasacort AQ, all steroid-based anti-inflammatory nasal sprays. The fraudulent conduct occurred from 1995 to 2000.

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