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Practice Fusion To Pay $145 Mln To Settle Opioid-related Kickback Allegations

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Practice Fusion Inc., a cloud-based electronic health record or EHR platform, agreed to pay $145 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations relating to its EHR software, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. The company allegedly received kickbacks for increasing opioid prescriptions.

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, Practice Fusion agreed to pay over $26 million in criminal fines and forfeiture. Further, in separate civil settlements, the company would pay a total of approximately $118.6 million to the federal government and states to resolve all allegations.

In the investigation, the San Francisco-based health information technology developer admitted that it received kickbacks from a major opioid company in exchange for utilizing its EHR software to influence physician prescribing of opioid pain medications.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Christina Nolan said, "Practice Fusion's conduct is abhorrent. During the height of the opioid crisis, the company took a million-dollar kickback to allow an opioid company to inject itself in the sacred doctor-patient relationship so that it could peddle even more of its highly addictive and dangerous opioids."

The company is also alleged to have accepted unlawful kickbacks from other pharmaceutical companies for implementing clinical decision support or CDS alerts in its EHR software designed to increase prescriptions for their drug products. The company also caused its users to submit false claims for federal incentive payments by misrepresenting the capabilities of its EHR software.

The DoJ noted that between 2014 and 2019, health care providers using Practice Fusion's EHR software wrote numerous prescriptions after receiving CDS alerts that pharmaceutical companies participated in designing.

In early January, the DoJ said it recovered more than $3 billion in a year from businesses who have committed fraud and false claims against the government. Majority of these claims were in healthcare industry, of which two largest recoveries came from opioid manufacturers.

American specialty pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics paid $195 million to settle kickback allegations regarding Subsys, and Reckitt Benckiser Group plc paid a total of $1.4 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability related to the marketing of the opioid addiction treatment drug Suboxone.

In other kickback settlements, sleep Apnea equipment maker ResMed Corp. in mid- January agreed to pay more than $37.5 million.

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