Health care settlements

Justice Department alleges more drug copay kickbacks

A nurse prepares vials of the drug Solaris on a table.
Alexion, which makes Soliris, is paying a $13 million federal settlement. Photo: Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck and Alexion Pharmaceuticals are paying a combined $122.6 million to the federal government to settle allegations that they funded outside charities that covered patients' copays for the specific drugs they sell.

Why it matters: It's illegal for pharmaceutical companies to directly or indirectly pay for patients' medications, because the payments are "masking the high prices those companies charge for their drugs,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. Yet, copay kickback allegations continue to pop up.

Health care is a ripe target for federal fraud claims

Data: U.S. Department of Justice; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Since 1987, health care companies have paid almost $39 billion to the Department of Justice to settle various allegations of fraud. The amounts have increased steadily over time, and the vast majority of settlements come from whistleblower cases, where employees inside health care companies report alleged wrongdoing and get a cut of the deal.

Go deeper: The big business of health care fraud