Business briefs

Dec. 20, 2012 @ 05:44 PM

Amgen to pay NC $1.18 million

RALEIGH -- Amgen Inc. will pay $1.18 million to North Carolina as part of a national settlement between the company and state and federal authorities, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday.

The $612 million national settlement was made to resolve a dispute between Amgen and state and federal authorities regarding claims of illegal marketing of certain drugs and other claims, according to a news release from Cooper’s office.

The payments were to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and other taxpayer-funded health care programs.

Cooper and the other parties alleged that Amgen engaged in improper practices including the illegal marketing of the drugs Aranesp, Enbrel and Neulasta, as well as that the company illegally offered or paid kickbacks to influence health care providers to prescribe  those and other drugs for Medicaid recipients.

Amgen will also agree to monitoring of its future sales and marketing practices by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, according to Cooper’s office.           

In addition, the company has pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of misbranding of the drug Aranesp by promoting it in a way that was different from the dosages in the label. The plea was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and was accepted Thursday by the same court.

Blue Cross, orthopaedic practice agree to payment deal

CHAPEL HILL – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced a deal on Thursday to allow customers to pay a fixed price for knee replacements at the private North Carolina Specialty Hospital in Durham.

Rather than receive multiple bills from the surgeon, hospital, physical therapist and others, patients will make one payment to Triangle Orthopaedic Associates when knee replacement surgery is performed at the hospital, according to a news release. Triangle Orthopaedic Associates jointly owns the specialty hospital.

The bundled payment will include pre-operative tests and office visits within 30 days of the procedure, appointments and care during the hospital stay and related outpatient care for 90 days after surgery.

“We’ve found from a successful pilot program that this model is proven to reduce potentially avoidable complications, improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of total knee replacement surgeries for our customers,” said Brad Wilson, president and CEO of the insurer, in a news release.

Lew Borman, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill-based insurer, said in an email that the price is not yet available, but he said “it is under market cost for North Carolina.” The cost will be available using the insurer’s online cost transparency tool in January, he said.

The amount of coverage offered by the insurer can vary depending on the individual plan, Borman said, but according to the insurer’s cost estimator tool, the cost of knee replacement surgeries in North Carolina can range from $25,000 to $40,000.